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Campus spike in COVID-19 cases prompts move to online classes at Guilford College
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Campus spike in COVID-19 cases prompts move to online classes at Guilford College

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GREENSBORO — Guilford College has switched its in-person classes to online, but could be back to regular instruction later this week. An unexpected spike in positive COVID-19 test results at a campus clinic last week, along with the discovery of a cluster of at least 18 cases associated with Guilford athletics spurred the decision. 

The switch to online happened Thursday, according to a message from interim President Jim Hood posted on the college's website, and will last at least through Wednesday. The school's health and safety task force also approved canceling, moving online, or "greatly curtailing" planned campus activities. 

The private college in Greensboro has about 1,200 students. 

Hood said in his message that the school planned to test the entire campus and those results would help it decide whether or not to resume in-person classes. 

Ed Winslow, chairman of the college's Board of Trustees, said Tuesday that the official test results weren't yet available. However, he said what he's heard unofficially left him optimistic that campus clinic testing results from Sept. 28 were an anomaly and the college could return to in-person learning later this week. That could be as soon as Thursday, according to Ty Buckner, the school's associate vice president of alumni and constituent services. 

Two factors drew the college's concern, according to Hood's message. 

The first is that the school's COVID testing clinic showed 26 positive tests out of 244 completed tests, a nearly 11% positivity rate. The number of positive tests was, "much higher than we have seen on campus this semester," Hood wrote. 

The school also identified a cluster within Guilford College athletics with 18 positive cases, Hood said. 

The college advised students who live on campus not to travel home. According to the message, the school's dining hall was set to operate on a take-out basis. 

Winslow, the board chairman, said that the school moved swiftly when they saw the testing results. 

"We are all over this thing, and we are doing the right things for the right reasons," he said. 

Contact Jessie Pounds at Jessie.Pounds@greensboro.com or 336-373-7002 and follow @JessiePounds on Twitter.​

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