Piedmont returns for spring with COVID protocols in place

Cameron Graham, News Editor

After a successful fall semester, Piedmont College wants to repeat that success for the spring semester. With COVID-19 cases still on the rise, Piedmont intends to maintain a safe environment for the entire campus. In order to accomplish this goal, old rules are being changed, and students are following new guidelines.

“We had residential students complete the COVID test, temperature check, and Lion Check screening,” said Kimberly Crawford, Dean of Student Life and Leadership, addressing the return policy for students. “In addition, we ask that all students complete the Lion’s Check daily and if they begin to show symptoms, to raise a flag in Starfish so we can respond immediately.”

The cold season is always when many people get sick, as well as when COVID-19 started to spread across the country. Since Piedmont students had an extended winter break, there is a chance some could’ve been exposed to the virus, especially with COVID numbers continuing to rise.

“If a student tests positive, they are required to complete a 10-day quarantine. At the end of that time, we ensure that there are no symptoms or fever persisting before they are cleared to return to campus,” said Crawford.

After a long break, Piedmont students are typically eager to return for another semester, but adjusting to the new return rule can eliminate that excitement. Waiting on test results to see if you are positive or negative can be nerve-racking. 

“The experience of being quarantined was an experience I wouldn’t even wish on my worst enemy,” said senior early childhood education major, Deoni Thigpen said. “I had no symptoms and tested negative, but I was in contact with someone who tested positive that also didn’t have any symptoms.”

With many individuals, their attitude regarding COVID does not change until they experience their own COVID scare. Piedmont College wants to prevent students from contracting COVID-19 to have the best college experience possible.

“I was impacted hard mentally, even though I enjoy being in my own space by myself,” said Thigpen. “The most frustrating part of being quarantined was being told to not leave my room.”

 Students are already challenged mentally with the assignments they have to complete each week, and usually can have their family members visit the campus to take their mind off the heavy workload, but things are different this semester.

“It did change for now. With the increase in numbers locally and nationally, we felt to protect our Piedmont family, it would be best if we limited any outside guest visits on campus inside the residence halls,” said Crawford. “If we see that things begin to turn around, we are certainly open to revisiting this in the future.”

That policy has extended to athletics. The USA South Conference issued a press release last month stating that spectators will not be allowed at any USA South Conference indoor events. Keeping in line with Piedmont’s overall policy regarding outside visitors, the college is extending the “no spectator” policy to all sporting events, whether indoor or outdoor.

“Only essential gameday personnel will be in attendance at home athletic events until further notice,” said Jim Peeples, director of intercollegiate athletics in a statement on piedmontlions.com. “To remain diligent in our focus on the health and safety of our student-athletes, we will not be allowing spectators at any home events including students, faculty, staff, family members or off campus visitors.

Meanwhile, Crawford said college personnel are continuing to maintain vigorous cleaning standards, as well as continuing to implement other policies from last semester.

“As we did in the fall, we have increased our sanitizing efforts and continue to support our students on a case-by-case basis if they begin to experience symptoms. We still require students, faculty, and staff to wear masks at all times and complete the Lion Check daily,” Crawford said. “We continue to be vigilant in protecting our campus community and are doing all that we can to ensure a healthy campus. Thank you for your continued support.”