As of last week, Guilford College has officially switched from online classes to in-person instruction, allowing students and teachers to return to the classroom. With the shift to in-person classes, students can dine in the cafeteria and visit the college bookstore, which previously only took online book orders. Student events, and activities are starting up again, much to everyone’s excitement. Just last week, the alumni gym hosted a casino night, and OSLE offered a vision board activity in Founders Hall.
Last year, the quarantine for returning students was extended twice and lasted a total of six agonizing weeks, a significant difference from this year’s two weeks. With the majority of students vaccinated, and with preparations made by Guilford faculty, the process of returning to student life has gone smoothly. The Guilford Health and Safety Taskforce sent frequent email updates regarding COVID-19 cases on campus, and provided the dates and StarMed links to register for COVID testing and/or vaccination clinics on campus. These updates were crucial in starting the spring semester off right; they kept students up to date about the number of positive tests on campus, alerted students about the campus’s overall weekly progress and provided a general idea of when in-person classes could resume.
Although the campus is now officially in person, not every class plans to transition right away. Some teachers have decided to wait an extra week for one reason or another, and that’s okay. I myself have only been in person with my Phys Ed and art classes for the last week, mostly because these courses require hands-on participation as well as detailed instruction and observation from the teacher. In comparison, my virtual classes focused more on reading, note taking and discussion. When teachers are allowed to go at their own pace as they transition from online learning, they are able to take the necessary steps to make their individual classrooms a safe environment for themselves and their students. In my opinion, letting teachers transition at their own pace benefits the students and keeps everyone safe.
For the students living on campus, the extended quarantine was quite frustrating to deal with. As students living in the dorms had to endure two weeks of Zoom classes, takeout from the cafeteria and the closed facilities on campus left people going stir-crazy and craving social interaction. Being able to eat in the cafeteria instead of their dorms is monumental in helping students to keep going throughout the year. For many students, meals are a time for socialization as they spend time chatting with friends, classmates and the cafeteria staff. Guilford’s cafeteria is undoubtedly one of the most lively places on campus, and I certainly noticed its absence. I feel that if the quarantine continued for any longer than three weeks at most, it would begin to have a negative effect on students’ mental health. After all, you can only play cards with your roommate for so long before you both go insane.