COVID-19 cases have significantly decreased on Guilford College’s campus this school year when compared to previous years, due to the college’s enforcement of vaccinations and mask mandates on campus.
Guilford’s health and safety approach to the pandemic has helped to keep COVID case numbers relatively low compared to other institutions around the Greensboro area. Since the start of the pandemic, there has been no record of hospitalizations from community members, and in the majority of cases, vaccinated students who have tested positive have experienced mild symptoms or have been asymptomatic.
“We’re not seeing a huge surge of cases now compared to when we first came back from winter break,” said public health fellow Maya Chevalier. “This last week, we haven’t had any new cases on campus, and we will continue to improve with the boostering process.”
This is the first time since the beginning of the pandemic that we have seen a 0% COVID test positivity rate among students. In light of this improvement, the Task and Safety Force decided to shorten the hours of operation of testing sites on campus, now operating once a week on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Hege Library.
Despite the decreased demand for testing, Guilford adopted a mandatory vaccination and booster policy requirement that urges students, staff and faculty to receive a COVID-19 vaccine/booster in order to ensure the health and safety of everyone on campus.
“98% of students are currently vaccinated with the exception of 25 students that have exemptions,” said Coordinator of Student Health Services Susan Smith. “The numbers will keep changing as now the mandatory boostered process begins.”
Along with the implementation of this new policy, there is an approved exemption for people who are unable to get vaccinated due to health or religious reasons. Aside from the exemption, faculty and students are required to comply with this new policy. The deadline to receive the booster has been extended through Tuesday, March 1. When this deadline arrives, those who are not able to get boosted will not be allowed to reside on campus, attend in-person classes or participate in campus activities.
“As President Kyle Farmbry shared a week ago, the most effective way to reduce the impact of COVID-19 and its variants on our campus community is to have as many people as possible fully vaccinated and boosted, and to wear a mask when you are in contact with other people,” the Guilford Health and Safety Task Force reported in an email sent to students and faculty on Jan. 20..
To support the new booster policy, the Health and Safety Task Force is working alongside StarMed Health providers to make booster vaccines more accessible to students on campus.
“Vaccine clinics are open to all students and staff,” said Smith. “Appointments are not required; they can just check in upon arrival. Transitioning to booster vaccination will help us stay safe and continue to protect our surrounding communities.”
Guilford’s new booster requirement is a collective effort from community members to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and its variants on campus and in local neighboring communities.