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Zero can be a good thing, if it refers to COVID-19 cases

Not too many people need to be told that 2020 was a less-than-stellar year on many fronts, but with the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, COVID-19 still being in full swing and extremely cold weather in many parts of the country, including the Upper Peninsula, 2021 is posing its challenges too.

So, it comes as a welcome bit of news that Northern Michigan University announced on Monday it had no active positive cases of COVID-19, and no students were quarantined in Spalding Hall on campus.

In fact, the COVID dashboard, found at nmu.edu/safe-on-campus/dashboard, indicated there still were no positive cases as of Tuesday.

We hear of big outbreaks at other campuses, and fortunately, that has not been the case at NMU.

NMU did it right. It set protocols early, testing students, faculty and staff diligently at the beginning of both semesters this 2020-21 academic year.

It conducts surveillance testing to continue monitoring the situation, and continually stresses safety measures such as social distancing, washing hands, wearing masks and staying home when ill.

The campus itself also was changed to make it safer, such as the reconfiguration of classrooms. This included installing plexiglass barriers to enhance student safety in advance of the fall semester.

NMU also has been transparent in its efforts, with correspondence from NMU President Fritz Erickson to students, faculty and staff regularly posted on the NMU website. Its dashboard provides real-time updates regarding the status of COVID-19 on campus.

NMU’s website also has lots of useful information regarding COVID-19, including where to find resources on exposure, quarantine and close contacts; masks and face coverings; the required mass screening; and vaccination information.

To be proactive, NMU provides COVID-19 information for future students on its website as well. Potential students meet one on one with faculty members in their areas of interest and can take a video tour through campus, for example. NMU also offers in-person campus visits with limited capacity.

Someone could argue that it’s easier for a small university such as NMU to stay safe, with fewer students making COVID-19 protocols easier to manage.

However, NMU’s methods seem to be working.

The university might not have a zero positive rate every day, but the fact it has achieved that status this far into the pandemic is admirable.

We hope this positive trend continues.

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