COVID-19 currently not college’s biggest issue

The week of Oct. 30, Guilford College saw no new positive results following the weekly COVID-19 testing clinic. This is a promising announcement, given the steady increase of cases in Guilford County and North Carolina communities, at large. 

As of Oct. 21, North Carolina is currently in Phase 3. Movie theaters, conference centers and outdoor amusement parks can open at 30% capacity. However, personal care businesses like hair and nail salons and barber shops remain subject to capacity limits, and face coverings are still mandatory in public places. Guilford College is in phase orange. Phase orange requires high alert protocols. Among other restrictions, students, faculty and staff are required to wear face coverings and no off campus guests are allowed on campus.

On Friday, Oct. 31, Chair of the Health and Safety Task Force Jermaine Thomas informed students of the results of the clinic. Thomas wrote, “On Oct. 27., our random testing clinic involved 233 community members and other people who chose to be tested. We are pleased to share that no new positive cases have been revealed to this point…” Thomas also noted that students should follow safety guidelines during upcoming Halloween celebrations. 

Savannah Henry, a Guilford junior, volunteers as a COVID-19 hotline operator for Guilford College. She said Guilford has “been preparing and taking into consideration a potential spike with Halloween.” Guilford has been taking precautions, but the results from the Nov. 5 and 6 clinic have been delayed and are not yet released. In the meantime, Henry advises students to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves. “My best advice is to take care of yourself, social distance, wash hands, wear a mask and encourage others to do the same. Set a positive example, and don’t be afraid to call others out.”

Guilford College offers clinics for students to get tested for the coronavirus. These clinics are open to any students who would like to get tested, in addition to those who are randomly selected and athletes. “So far, I’ve only been selected one time,” said Maren Lamb, a first-year, “It was super easy. I was in and out. I got my results in a couple of days.” If a student wants to get tested, they should watch The Buzz for more information.

In addition to randomized testing, Guilford College has taken many measures to prevent an outbreak on campus. These safeguards include a 24 hour hotline that is available to students to report their own or peer’s symptoms, random COVID-19 tests and the launch of the StayHealthy@Guilford campaign. 

“Personally, I think Guilford has done an OK job,” said junior Jessica Fuentes. “It’s not the best I’ve seen but also not the worst. They’ve set up good protocols, like limiting a certain number of people in a room, requiring masks in public spaces and contact tracing.” 

“I really like the weekly updates that are sent out,” said Lamb, “but I feel like we could be doing better as a community. I’ve seen some irresponsible people. I understand it is tough to work with what we have, though.” 

If a student wants to become more informed about how to stay safe during the pandemic, they can attend informational sessions via Zoom. Subjects like proper mask-wearing, symptom explanations, staying safe over the holidays and Guilford’s COVID-19 guidelines are explained and clarified.

Recently the Provost’s Office sent out an updated Spring 2021 semester calendar. The most notable change from the calendar is the removal of Spring Break. This change comes because the College has assumed there will be an “…increased health risk due to widespread travel typical of such week-long breaks.” 

When asked her feelings on this, sophomore Jess Castaneda said, “It’s a smart move on the part of the College. I would like more details on what they are going to replace it with.”

Other updates that were announced included allowing students to return to campus on Jan. 8. All classes, including hybrid and in-person, will be conducted online for the week of Jan. 11. Beginning Jan. 19, all in-person instruction can meet in person. 

The new spring semester calendar can be found here. If a student is worried they or their friend might be displaying COVID-19 symptoms, they should call the Guilford College COVID-19 hotline at 336.316.2319.