Staff Editorial: Staying healthy at Guilford and protecting the campus community

After nearly a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Guilford students long for a return to normal college life—days filled with in-person classes, long conversations with friends in the crowded caf, study sessions in the library and the fun of on-campus events and gatherings. However, the recent surge in COVID-19 cases indicates that some students may be a little too eager to get back to their pre-pandemic routines.

Through the COVID-19 Anonymous Reporting Form provided by the Stay Healthy @ Guilford campaign, witnesses have reported several violations of the COVID-19 guidelines put in place by the College. These violations include refusing to wear masks, breaking quarantine and isolation, ignoring social distancing protocols and hosting or attending large gatherings. Junior and public health intern Hannah Preston has seen the consequences of these violations firsthand. 

Throwing parties, hanging out with large numbers of people (and) going to unmasked political events hurts our entire community and prolongs our process,” said Preston. “We saw our highest number of cases recently due to these careless choices.”

After a random testing clinic on Jan. 22 revealed that 11% of the Guilford community members tested were positive for the virus, administration and Health and Safety Task Force members took additional steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, such as implementing more consistent testing clinics and continuing to make them available to all students regardless of financial need. Another helpful resource provided by the Task Force is the COVID-19 hotline, staffed with trained interns to answer questions and guide students through procedures such as isolation and quarantine. The Self-Reporting Form is available to students who have tested positive or are showing symptoms for the virus, or those who have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

There is still some room for improvement, however. Closing down services such as the Grill and the gym forces some students to find places to meet those needs off-campus, which could potentially expose them to the virus and bring it back to our community. 

In the end, though, Preston maintained that students are largely responsible for stopping the spread of COVID-19 on campus. 

“Students can stop the spread or send us home,” she said. “If our community wears masks, gets tested frequently and socially distances, we could get back to a version of normalcy in no time.”   

We at the Guilfordian acknowledge that the pandemic has been a challenging time for students emotionally, mentally and physically. We all want to return to a version of the typical college experience, and the pandemic seems endless. At the same time, we echo the concerns of Preston and others that some students are still struggling to take the pandemic seriously. We need to hold ourselves accountable and do everything we can to protect ourselves and others from the virus. The sooner we do that, the sooner we can return to a safer version of the Guilford we know and love.

Follow @stayhealthyguilfordcollege for updates, resources and information regarding COVID-19.

COVID-19 hotline: 336 316 2319