This week the United States surpassed 200 thousand deaths due to COVID-19 and over seven million cases since December 2019, Johns Hopkins reports. In light of these high cases, Guilford College looks very different this during the fall 2020 semester.
Classes are online, athletics are canceled and COVID-19 has changed the normality for Guilfordians. The state of North Carolina is in phase 2.5, requiring face coverings in public spaces. Guilford is in phase orange, requiring high alert protocols. There have been 18 identified positive cases since the first move-in day on Aug. 13, 2020.
Some of the biggest changes that the college has seen are the addition of virtual classes, the COVID-19 task force, the #StayHealthy Campaign, the Guilford College Hotline and the COVID-19 Guilford-wide policies. All implementations have been to stop COVID-19 from spreading.
“The biggest changes that we have instituted at Guilford to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 are changes to the modes of instruction, the de-densification of our residential, academic and administrative buildings and the institution of health and safety protocols such as enhanced cleaning and disinfection, a face-covering policy and encouraging our community to maintain social distancing while practicing good hand hygiene,” Health and Safety Task Force Chair Jermaine Thomas stated.
Additional implementations include the three Ws: wear a face covering, wait 6 feet apart and avoid close contact and wash our hands and use hand sanitizer.
These new policies and protocols have caused students to relearn what college entails. Students have expressed mixed emotions about these changes.
“As an athlete it has been disappointing to live on campus and see teammates every day but not be allowed to play and practice,” said first-year women’s lacrosse player Kylie Horn.
The fall 2020 and winter 2021 season have been postponed until the spring of 2021. Student athletes can condition in pods of less than 10 without any physical contact. The capacity at which teams can practice depends on the COVID-19 phase of the college. This week, the athletic facilities in Ragan-Brown will open for the first time this semester. There will be a sign-up of time slots for people to exercise. The athletic facilities are open to all students.
First-year students had their initial college experiences via zoom calls in their dorm rooms, seeing very few of their peers.
“My college experience so far has definitely been different then I envisioned. So far I have been able to make friends within my building but it has been challenging to spend time with people because of all the precautions students are taking to stay healthy”, Horn stated. “Overall, I am glad this happened my freshman year and not in the middle of my college experience because this is all normal to me and other than the obvious like in person classes and playing sports I don’t know what I am missing out on.”
The hotline and #StayHealthy campaign are two initiatives led by students and administration that lead by example, contact tracers, have watchful eyes, and help centers across campus.
Senior Sierra Ashworth described their experience working with the hotline.
“As an intern working with the COVID-19 hotline and Contact Tracing team, I have to express frustration, mainly because of the reports of lack of adherence by other students to said protocol,” Ashworth said. “I think most students are taking it seriously and doing what they’re asked. However, the groups of students not adhering to protocol, simply because they don’t want to, either don’t realize they’re putting everyone at risk, or they just don’t care. I just wish others cared about the health and safety of the entire community instead of their individual freedoms.”
The success of returning to any form of normalcy is determined by the ability of students, faculty and staff to follow guidelines. The sooner that Guilford College as a community can figuratively come together with the better prepared we can be to combat COVID-19.
For any questions about the Guilford College COVID-19 policies and protocols, visit the Guilford College website or call the Guilford COVID-19 hotline at (336)-316-2319.