On Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, Guilford College President Carol Moore notified students, faculty and staff of a recent influx in positive COVID-19 cases on campus via email. According to the results of a testing clinic on Jan. 22, “a total of 32 community members tested positive, representing an 11% random positivity rate.”
Because of the spike in positive cases, the College transitioned to Phase 2 of its Health and Safety COVID Activity Matrix and implemented a two-week soft quarantine for all students, faculty and staff, ending Feb. 8, or until further notice from Moore. An email sent on Feb. 3 has extended this period to Feb. 15. During the quarantine period, students living on campus are advised to stay in their rooms. All meals are to be provided on a “to-go” basis from the cafeteria, and learning is to take place remotely.
In order to control the spread of the virus, the College conducted two testing clinics on Thursday, Jan. 27 and Friday, Jan. 28. All residential students were required to attend one of the random testing clinics. A few days later, on Sunday, Jan. 31, the results were announced. A total of 29 community members tested positive. Fortunately, the close contacts associated with each positive case were significantly lower than those of the initial spike. Because of this, the College anticipates that it will resume normal operations upon completion of its soft quarantine period.
The coronavirus has impacted Guilford College and its community and members in a plethora of ways, but students refuse to be disheartened by the virus’s surge. Sophomore Gracie Mayer, a residential advisor and student-athlete, shared her thoughts on the recent spike in cases: “This is hard news to handle, but amidst the chaos of coronavirus, we all need to come together and work as one unit to ensure that our campus stays healthy.”
According to Public Safety Director Jermaine Thomas, prior to recent events, “there were numerous instances of large (student) gatherings that were egregious and reckless in nature” and contributed to multiple positive cases via contact-tracing.
Though Thomas has full confidence that the College will manage its positive cases, students should be more diligent in following the College’s COVID protocols and work as a team to slow the spread. If students are found having large gatherings and COVID cases increase as a result of these gatherings, all students involved could potentially be removed from campus.
As simple as it sounds, it can be difficult to adhere to COVID protocols. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that “public health actions, such as social distancing, are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but they can make us feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety.”
To combat the emotional distress that students may feel during the soft quarantine, Mayer advised students to “keep a list of things that (they are) thankful for,” and refer to it when feeling down. Among other strategies, the CDC recommends exercise, healthy eating and talking to friends or loved ones to cope with stress.
Guilford College witnessed its highest number of positive cases in late January. To combat the spread of the virus, the College implemented restrictive precautions such as returning to remote learning; prohibiting in-person, social contact; limiting campus activities; providing “to-go” only food options; and administering additional, mandatory testing. Though student life is limited, the College is committed to the health and safety of its stakeholders and hopeful that it will return to normal in the proceeding weeks.
“While this moment is a challenge, I am comforted (by) how our community has come together during this time,” said Thomas. “Many community members have reached out to volunteer their time and talents. We will get through this moment and become stronger because of it.”