SMCC adjusting to virus with new semester

SMCC President Dr. Steve Bishop, right, speaks to trustees in the Holmes Student Union auditorium, where some seats are designated off limits to enforce social distancing among students.

With several weeks of classes in the books, Southwest Mississipi Community College trustees are pleased with how the fall semester has gone so far.

President Dr. Steve Bishop told trustees Tuesday night that the first several days with students on campus were “interesting,” before the necessary routine set in.

Now, “the students are doing well,” Bishop said. “They’re all wearing their masks and their spaced out in the classrooms. A few have gotten sick, and they’ve stayed home.

“I’m encouraged about the rest of the semester.”

He pointed out that the auditorium upstairs in the Holmes Student Union, where the trustees were meeting, had signs taped on seats denoting where students should not sit, so they could be socially distanced from each other.

The trustees present in person for the meeting spaced themselves around the room as well.

On the athletics front, Bishop said SMCC and other state community colleges are still aiming to being playing football on Oct. 1, though the campus has not been completely bereft of football this fall.

He said, although North Pike has elected to play its football games at its middle school campus, other high schools have played football at Hurst Stadium this fall already, and more games are scheduled.

“We’re just doing the best we can,” Bishop said.

He also shared the important news that SMCC has been reaccredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Though not official until after the college receives its formal notification letter, which is to be mailed Sept. 18, the reaccreditation news was shared with Bishop and Registrar Matt Calhoun by a SACS official via telephone.

In other business, the board:

• Approved the purchase of sole-source software for the industrial maintenance and nursing programs at the Regional Workforce Training Center.

• Authorized the physical resources committee to review bids and award a contract to address drainage problems on the school’s softball field.

• Approved filing an application for a coronavirus relief grant and naming financial Vice President Andrew Alford as the school’s representative to deal with issues pertaining to the grant.

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