University administrators and student government leaders scrambled Sunday afternoon to quell a rumor that the school would be transitioning to Red status in the coming week.
An email regarding Wake Forest’s potential to shift from Orange to Red status circulated among students for the better part of the weekend, instilling a sense of unease within some students. In response, the school announced via an Instagram story that the school will remain in modified Orange status.
Brett Eaton, Wake Forest’s Senior Associate Vice President of Communications and External Relations, told Old Gold & Black reporters that he and his office were aware of the email that was being circulated. More importantly, Eaton confirmed that the claims that the email made were untrue.
“The email that came from administrators in the Athletics Department today stating the University is moving to Red is the result of a miscommunication when determining what ‘Red status’ operations might look like,” Eaton explained.
This email, which was sent to student-athletes, incorrectly stated that both quarantine hotels were at capacity, classes were moving online and the school would be moving into Red status.
Although the content of this email has been written off as an unfortunate miscommunication by members of the Communications and External Relations team, students remain confused.
Eaton made clear that conversations were being held regarding the University’s response to this surge in COVID-19 cases. He also maintained that while the University is not moving to Red status at this time, it is not outside the realm of possibility if case numbers continue to climb.
“The University will communicate soon with the campus community that we remain in Orange status, but that we cannot let our guard down if we hope to reverse current trends and avoid a more restrictive operating status,” Eaton said.
Mark Petersen, Vice President for University Advancement echoed Eaton’s statement.
“The trigger to go red is uncontrolled community spread and the answer to uncontrolled community spread is to assume everyone is infected,” Petersen said.
According to Petersen, we simply are not there yet.
He continued on to explain that the number of active cases alone is not the indicator of whether or not the university will remain in Orange status. The specifics of where one is exposed is one of the most important factors that Wake Forest administrators look at when evaluating the status of the school. Right now, Petersen stated that no coronavirus cases have been traced back to classrooms or University-sanctioned outdoor activities.
As of Sunday, Feb. 7, Wake Forest University will continue to operate at Modified Orange Status.
This said, several students who asked to remain anonymous said that they were already booking airline tickets and Airbnbs out of fear that the University is on the brink of Red status shutdown. As more students react impulsively, the danger of students bringing the Coronavirus with them, should they return home prematurely, becomes a more realistic and immediate danger.
This is a developing story and will be continuously updated as more information is made available.