March 20 COVID-19 Update

Guilford testing clinics have revealed zero positive COVID cases for cohorts one and three in the past week. While COVID-19 has limited interactions between students on campus for the past year, the decrease in cases raises questions regarding how to move forward with the pandemic. Will the cases stay low or will they rise again? 

Guilford implemented a new system of testing in the past two weeks with cohorts, or groups, that will each be tested once every three weeks. Prior to this new testing method, the College employed a random selection system. The Guilford Health and Safety Task Force decided that they were not getting the volume and accuracy of results that they needed to control the spread of COVID. Switching to the new system means that on-campus students, faculty and staff and commuting students who will be on campus will be tested in groups and more often to improve such factors. 

The last two weeks revealed no positive cases for two of the cohort groups. Although he hopes that this will continue, Jermaine Thomas commented on his realistic expectations. 

“I do think it is realistic that we will have more cases this semester,” he stated. “While the trends are looking good, the effects of those trends give me caution. There are more bars and establishments opening up in the area, and while the state numbers overall have stalled, they are not declining. That shows that the pandemic is still very real.” 

Guilford students and faculty are still instructed to abide by CDC guidelines to keep the cases down. Despite the campus having zero cases for two straight weeks, members of the Guilford community must continue to wear face masks on campus, especially in small gatherings. Not doing so will exacerbate the rate of positive cases, and will result in stricter guidelines and extended remote learning, as shown earlier this semester.

Concerns of following guidelines still remain, specifically around small numbers of community members, faculty, staff or students who are not following the protocols.

“The reasons as to why can vary,” stated Thomas, referring to these concerns. “We always had those that (did) not believe in the severity of the virus.”

Students on campus have expressed that they feel more at ease with the new testing method. Before cohort testing became mandatory, students who cared about the severity of the virus were worried about contracting the virus while at Guilford. Random testing meant that only the people who were selected would be instructed to take a COVID test, as well as those who felt they had symptoms.

Sports teams recently started up again, and student athletes and non-athletes athletes alike have expressed concern that sports will contribute to the spread of the virus. 

“Even though there are requirements of keeping the mask on and breaks for social distancing, many players don’t abide by these rules during and out of practice,” said student Taylor Young. “If one player gets sick the whole team could potentially be sick.” 

This could then infect those who live with a student on a sports team. 

Some students at Guilford have a more optimistic outlook for the rest of the semester. Junior Cary Hardwick shared her positive predictions. 

“I think that we are following the guidelines very well,” she stated. “(We are) at least better than we were at the beginning of the semester.” 

Please stay six feet apart and wear masks so that we can keep our community cases down and maintain optimism in the last weeks of the semester.