Guilford moves toward normalcy after COVID-19

A discarded COVID-19 mask in the fall. (Wikimedia Commons)

On Monday, Oct. 3, Guilford College declared in a campus-wide email that the College would be entering Phase Five of its COVID-19 activity matrix due to a low number of cases of the coronavirus. Since the beginning of the semester, Guilford’s campus has become more lively, with students all over campus, full tables in the dining hall and better attendance for school events.

According to Guilford’s Health & Safety Task Force, Phase Five is the least restrictive, meaning students can experience a freer and more relaxed college environment. This is a long-awaited desire of many, especially for those who were under lockdown when the pandemic first began in spring 2020.

Both students and staff members have been eager to get out this school year, with student organizations like the Campus Activities Board (CAB) and the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement (OSLE) making efforts to bring life back to campus through fun and engaging events.

In the email sent to Guilford students and staff members, the Health & Safety Task Force outlined what should be expected during this more flexible phase.

While masking has become optional, the Health & Safety Task Force recommended that masks should be carried at all times to maintain the safety of all in the Guilford community. Aside from the mask policy, the task force introduced a revised policy regarding guests.

At the start of the Fall 2020 school year, Guilford restricted students from inviting off-campus guests and limited the number of on-campus students in a room. As of Oct. 3, the policy has been lifted, allowing students to invite off-campus guests. Room occupancy limits are still in place.

Classes have resumed in-person while campus events have expanded, allowing students to take up more space on campus, but safely.

Despite the lifted restrictions, the Health & Safety Task Force urges students to be mindful of maintaining order, as the virus is still present. The task force also stated that if anyone contracts the virus or experiences mild symptoms, they should reach out to Student Health, mask up and isolate for five days.

Most students and staff at Guilford are happy with these changes.

Dean of Students Steve Mencarini stated that he is elated that the college has been able to open the campus up to students.

“Being able to move to Phase Five has provided the students an opportunity to experience college in a ‘more normal’ setting,” Mencarini said. “With fewer restrictions for events and within the residence halls, I see these as positives for the overall student experience.”

First-year and sustainable food systems major Corey Hayes also expressed excitement about the new policy.

“I’m just excited to see more faces and meet more people,” Hayes said.

Even through his enthusiasm, Steve Mencarini reiterated that students and staff members are expected to maintain their safety to ensure that the school year runs smoothly. “COVID is still out there,” he said. “So we all need to continue to be vigilant for our own health, and the health of other individuals in our community.”