After months of remote learning and preparation, Mercer County Community College welcomed a limited number of students from select courses back to campus on July 6.

MCCC conducted on-campus chemistry labs, and aviation students returned to Trenton-Mercer Airport for in-flight instruction. The courses are MCCC’s first foray into bringing students and faculty back to campus on a limited basis.

“The team at MCCC is taking extraordinary steps to ensure a safe environment for returning students and faculty,” said Dr. Jianping Wang, President of MCCC. “This is a challenging time, and our ability to safely bring a limited number of people back to campus speaks to the dedication and determination of the entire MCCC community.”

Pathology program student Jenna Myers-Kane and her classmates have been learning entirely from home since mid-March. She explained that the crux of the pathology program is centered around practices that make social distancing nearly impossible.

“Learning to work with patients and run laboratory tests is difficult over Zoom,” Myers-Kane said.

She said she is glad that Mercer’s move toward limited in-person courses allows her and her classmates to get back into the laboratory.

The facilities team at MCCC is focused on ensuring a clean and safe environment for returning students and faculty. Extra hand sanitizing stations and additional signage with reminders about masks and CDC guidelines have been strategically placed around campus. Classrooms will be sterilized before, during and after use, with a special focus on “high-touch” areas, like door handles, elevator buttons and railings.

Taylor Tavarez, now in her second year in Mercer’s biology program, is one of the 40 students taking one of the in-person chemistry sections offered this summer. “I feel fine,” Tavarez said of coming back to campus. “Everything seems very sterile.”

Tavarez, her classmates and professor are all given MCCC-manufactured medical grade face shields as an added layer of protection. Every student also has separately labeled lab kits and supplies, preventing them from needing to share another classmate’s materials.

MCCC will incorporate more in-person classes following local, state and CDC guidelines in the fall. Earlier this summer, Mercer announced its plan to return to campus, which includes three types of courses: online, remote and hybrid.