On Sept. 16, the Guilford Gazette, a publication of the Office of Advancement and Alumni Relations, announced that this year’s Homecoming & Family Weekend festivities were canceled because of the surge of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina.
“The decision to cancel Homecoming reflects the recommendation of the College’s Health & Safety Task Force as well as the President’s Cabinet,” the Gazette’s statement read.
Other events were set to continue on campus from Oct. 8-10, such as Guilford’s football game against Shenandoah University, men’s and women’s soccer games and two dedication events, which were open to family and invited friends of those for whom the spaces were named.
Interim President Jim Hood then sent out an update email to students on Sept. 30 to announce that these events were to be postponed or canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak found in a testing clinic held at Guilford on Sept. 29. According to the email, the testing clinic resulted in 26 positive tests out of 244 tests, which is a 10.65 percent positivity rate, the highest the school has had this semester.
Many students were frustrated with the news as many were looking forward to homecoming events. Taron Lilly, an OSLE intern, was one of the many people that helped plan events for homecoming and was excited to attend her first Guilford homecoming as a sophomore. Unfortunately, she will miss out on these events again this year.
“It’s kinda frustrating that all these events I spend so much effort into planning, I now have to revitalize and replan because people weren’t being COVID safe,” said Lilly.
Senior Hannah Arnett, president of the Guilford Student Body Association, was excited about the homecoming events planned by GSBA, and is now disappointed that they are canceled.
“I was looking forward to dressing up for spirit week and going to the football game,” said Arnett. “GSBA was organizing a student section and midnight breakfast on Monday, but now that the football game is canceled and everything’s up in the air. It sucks not being able to go to class and dress up.”
Football player Milad Aghaiepour was looking forward to the homecoming football game and was eager to see the stands that would have been filled by students and their families.
“It sucks (because) I feel like more people would come to the homecoming game because of those events before the game,” said Aghaiepour. “It sucks that the students won’t have that. I really like it when the stands are full because I feel like I play better the more people are there.”
While students are frustrated with this outcome and cancellation decisions, many of them understand why it was necessary.
“It kinda feels like I was blindsided and even though I’m sad that the homecoming events aren’t happening, I’m also glad that Guilford was thinking about the students’ well-being,” said Lilly.
“We had a huge outbreak on campus so I feel like it’s pretty valid,” Arnett added. “We had 26 positives on campus, and that’s not even counting everyone on campus, so it’s pretty necessary.”
Another mandatory COVID-19 testing clinic occured on campus on Oct. 4 and 5. Results from the clinics showed the Guilford community is back down to a 1 percent positivity rate, which is consistent with previous testing results throughout the semester. As a result, the College has moved out of Phase 2 and is back in Phase 4.
“It would be great if COVID is under control… (if the College could) reschedule (these events) because it would give the students something to look forward to,” Arnett said.