University lifts a number of COVID-19 restrictions


Cate Pitterle, News Editor

In a message sent to students late Thursday night, Wake Forest announced that many of the COVID-19 restrictions implemented on Feb. 5 in response to spiking cases will be lifted over the weekend.

All buildings that were shut down with these restrictions, including the ZSR Library and Benson University Center, will reopen. Indoor dining will resume, with the Pit and North Dining reopening on Feb. 22 as well. Student organizations, including club sports, will also be allowed to resume in-person meetings and practices.

In addition, the university communicated several other Coronavirus-related measures. Wake Forest will continue to test all undergraduate students for the next five weeks, along with a random sample of graduate students.

“It is our intention to continue to manage the health and safety of our community while focusing on the mental health of our students. We recognize the toll that extended periods of isolation have on students in an already stressful environment,” said Mark Petersen, Vice President for University Advancement. “We want to expand opportunities for students to connect with each other and promote the numerous offerings from our well-being office. I am excited to see our Fireside on Manchester programming and events take off this Spring and applaud the work of the campus life team in making that happen safely.”

When asked about his thoughts on the university’s decision to reopen some aspects of campus life, Student Body President Miles Middleton said that if the school is going to remain in a stable position, students must take responsibility.

“I hope that students simply follow the guidelines going forward and realize that putting our campus first should be the number one priority in order to keep our campus open,” Middleton said. “While this was a struggle for the past two weeks, I am glad we are back to where we need to be as a community.”

Some restrictions, however, are remaining in place for the time being. The 10 p.m. curfew, which is statewide across North Carolina, will remain in effect.

As campus begins to reopen, the administration remains optimistic about a possible shift to Yellow status.

“We do feel that a return to Yellow Operating Status is very possible,” Petersen said. “Last semester we spent 80% of the year in Yellow [status], and there is no reason we can’t achieve that again this spring.”

The email, which was sent on behalf of President Nathan Hatch, Provost Rogan Kersh and Vice President for Campus Life Penny Rue, also referred to several complaints made by students, including some raised at the protest which took place on Feb. 12.

“We have learned several important lessons about how we communicate with students, the care for and partnership with our resident advisers, and the importance of attending to student mental health by providing the personal care and attention for which Wake Forest is known,” the email stated. “As always, we appreciate your feedback and cooperation.”

At this point, the university has not announced what changes will be made to address these areas of university policy.

We are in constant conversations about how we can improve the quality of life for our students,” Petersen said.

Middleton also offered up a better system of communication between Student Government and the student body. 

“Going forward, Student Government will be seeking to expand our communication with students as we look to be more transparent and open in order to answer difficult and clarifying questions,” Middleton said.

The email concluded by imploring students to continue following COVID-19 guidelines. 

“Again, thank you and hang in there as we together navigate the next few weeks,” the email stated. “Our ability to mitigate the risk of transmission and to keep the number of positive cases low requires a total community effort.”1