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LUMBERTON — Positive COVID-19 cases are trending below the state average among students at Robeson Community College, the RCC board of trustees learned Monday.

The college is averaging about 0.3 positive cases a day, said Steven Hunt, vice president of Workforce Development, Continuing Education and Institutional Service, during a COVID-19 numbers update to the board.

“For about six months we had averaged almost 0.6 to one new case per day and now we’ve been holding pretty steady for the past couple of months at less than 0.5,” Hunt said.

The college also has had no cases of infection occurring on campus. All positive cases that have occurred among students have been a result of exposure that occurred off campus.

“We’re not a residential campus so we do rely on self reporting, but we’ve been consistent throughout the tenure of this pandemic,” RCC President Melissa Singler said.

Also Monday, trustees learned the college’s Nursing Program continues to rank in the top five of the Best Registered Nursing Programs in the state.

The program ranked No. 2 in North Carolina for the year 2019 after a review of the 82 college Associate Degree in Nursing programs in the state by RegisteredNursing.org. The ranking dropped to number four out of 90 eligible programs in 2020 and remained there for the year 2021, behind Cape Fear Community College, Johnston Community College and Forsyth Technical Community College.

The scores and ranking of each school were based on a historical analysis of examination pass rates and scores from the National Council Licensure Examination over the previous five years. The test is the benchmark exam that the state’s board of nursing uses to determine whether or not a candidate is prepared for entry-level nursing practice.

“Our rank is not just based on numbers alone but on the pathways we’ve created with your help and support,” program Director Eva Meekins told the trustees.

In addition to the Associate Degree in Nursing pathway, the college has now implemented the Licensed Practical Nurse to Registered Nurse completion pathway, the Emergency Medical Service to RN completion pathway and the Associate General Education pathway.

“That’s what ranks us really high in the state. Not just, per se, our numbers but how we’re servicing our students,” Meekins said. “We’re excited about all of the things we’re able to do on the campus.”

The college’s Foundation and Grants Office has entered a project titled the Robeson IT Alliance Project, which is a partnership with the Emerging Technology Institute based in Red Springs and the Public Schools of Robeson County. The partnership will allow students to participate in information technology-focused internships with mega companies like Amazon and Microsoft, and their suppliers. The six-month project is funded by RTI International.

“I think it’s going to be a game-changer for our students,” Singler said.

The Robeson County courts will begin holding traffic court at RCC’s A.D. Lewis Auditorium on Wednesdays starting in April. Security and COVID-19 relief matters will be handled by the court, Singler said.

“We’ll also use this as an opportunity to make folks aware of our programs — especially short-term training and traffic school,” she said.

Singler also asked trustees to encourage local legislatures to push for budget stabilization funding for community colleges. The funding will ensure RCC rebounds financially from the pandemic, she said

“Loss of revenue is a systemwide issue. It’s not just local to us,” Singler said.

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