The shift to phase three

Street+art+advocating+for+masks+during+the+COVID-19+pandemic.

Adam Nieścioruk (unsplash.com)

Street art advocating for masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the second semester of the 2020-21 academic year at Guilford College well underway, and the most recent surge of cases on Guilford’s campus in the past, life is starting to look up once again on the small campus. As of Feb. 15, the restrictions of phase two were lifted, and Guilford started the shift to phase three. This is what the College resided under during the fall term, in which they saw great success.

Guilford College’s most recent report shows that the school is back down to a 2.7% positivity rate from the last testing clinic on Feb. 16, which is relieving to many after the high of 11% positivity that was detected not even a month ago. This provided a breath of fresh air for many, especially the members of the Health and Safety Task Force. 

Jermaine Thomas, the director of this force, shared his take. 

“I am cautiously optimistic that we will remain in phase three but we all need to do our part, and while most are following protocols we are still hearing of a few off campus gatherings that can easily affect our efforts to mitigate the spread,” he said. “We are working hard to put a stop to this high risk behavior so our campus can flourish.”

After the stress of the most recent power outages, the transition to phase three is a relief for many students as well, as it allows students to host guests in their rooms once again. The company of friends can be invaluable during this turbulent time. 

“I missed being able to eat in the dining hall,” shared first-year Guilford student Esther Gracie. “In addition, I love that I am allowed into my friends’ dorms again. Face-to-face social interaction is a plus after the two-week quarantine.”

As part of the efforts to continue the positive progress on campus, phase three lifts the remote-only learning requirement and allows for in-person classes to resume with up to 10 students in the room (socially distanced) at a time. This is exciting to many students who have struggled with the obstacles of online learning.

Peyton Guise is enrolled in Music 154 here at Guilford. She described this class as having an “engaging and upbeat vibe.” However, she acknowledged that there was something to gain from having it in person: “I feel like I will be getting more out of the class and its experience when I can be in Dana, so I am excited to finally go in person next week.”

The College moving into this new phase is positive in many aspects. However, there are many things that Guilford as a community needs to do to be able to continue this positive path. Though the previous plan for phase three was to continue the randomized testing schedule, the protocol was recently changed to the “Cohort Method.” This divides the community into three groups, or cohorts, and assigns them specific testing days occurring approximately every three weeks for the rest of the semester, guaranteeing that everyone continually gets tested. 

Furthermore, students and campus adults must continue to adhere to social distancing, be masked at all times, and wash hands frequently. Governor Cooper’s stay at home order was extended until Feb. 28, and the community is encouraged to abide by this order. The COVID-19 update emailed to the Guilford community on Feb. 19 asks students to “please remain vigilant this next week and do everything you can to protect yourself and others while on campus.”

 The Guilford community is, simply put, being asked to follow the “health and safety protocols.” These can be found on the Activity Decision Matrix, linked in the most recent update, or on the College’s website under [email protected]

Although following rules are an extremely important part of curbing the spread, Thomas also mentioned that we must practice empathy. 

“There are several community members that are doing the right thing and should be rewarded with the best campus experience possible during a pandemic,” he commented. “We must show care and concern for each other and avoid the high risk behaviors.” 

This transition has brought a new light to life here at Guilford, and if everyone in the community does their part, it can remain this way. While we are longer in the thick of the virus, we still are not out of the woods, so stay safe and mask up!