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Wyoming’s Northwest College starts the year strong

Published: Sep. 4, 2020 at 12:09 AM CDT
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POWELL, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - It’s not a normal school year. Students wear masks to classes, some are attending on-line classes only, and public safety is the number one concern.

But at Northwest College in Powell, enrollment numbers have stayed strong, coming in at just two percent under last fall’s attendance. That’s according to Lisa Smith, Institutional Research Manager for Northwest.

“We started out in early May being down about 30 percent from what we had been the previous year at that time,” Smith points out. “But as of our most recent data today, we are only down two percent head count and five percent full time equivalent enrollment.”

Kendle Jeffs is the Admissions Coordinator for Northwest. She says their recruiters and staff made adjustments to the tools they have used in the past to reach potential students and gain new enrollees.

“We leverage technology to our advantage to be able to meet with students via Zoom or Teams,” Jeffs notes, “and just keep in constant contact with them throughout the summer.”

But administrators here at Northwest College, just like at other institutions around the country, have to deal with a whole new set of variables.

Because of the danger of the spread of COVID-19, college officials are staying vigilant for signs of any outbreaks. Just this week, a student tested positive for the virus - but Lisa Watson, Vice President of Administrative Services, says they have a system in place, called COVID Connect, that aims to protect staff, students and the community at large.

“We have a whole team that works together to process that information,” Watson says, “and work with Park County Public Health, getting that student or that employee what they need to be set up for success.”

Northwest College’s experience with COVID cases is much more positive than the University of Wyoming, where officials this week were forced to halt their phased re-opening due to a large outbreak among students. But with protocols in place, administrators in Powell are hopeful that their school year will continue with minimal impact.

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