Admin optimistic as COVID-19 cases fall

As Governor Cooper lifts some statewide restrictions, Wake Forest will proceed with caution


As COVID-19 cases fall across campus, administrators hope to avoid another spike while remaining optimistic about a possible move to Yellow status soon in the semester.

Elizabeth Maline, Senior Writer

Two weeks after an extreme spike in COVID-19 cases prompted tighter campus restrictions including the closure of the ZSR Library and the Benson University Center there has been a steady decline in new cases. According to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard, there have been a total of 91 reported cases since Feb. 12. This stands in stark contrast to the 117 cases that were reported in a single day on Feb. 8 at the height of the surge.

“We want to congratulate our students for flattening the curve,” Vice President for Campus Life Penny Rue said. According to Rue, as of Wednesday, asymptomatic testing from this week shows just 11 positive cases of the 1,650 students who were tested, a positivity rate of .66%. That is a significant drop from last week’s positivity rate of 1.7%, and even more significant from the 4.9% positivity rate two weeks ago.

That is a significant drop from last week’s positivity rate of 1.7%, and even more significant from the 4.9% positivity rate two weeks ago.

Mark Petersen, Vice President for University Advancement, acknowledged the difficulties that students faced during the two-week lockdown the university implemented under the modified Orange status.

“We know that it was difficult to go through a period like that, and the tendency will be to let go,” Petersen said. “That said, no one wants to go back to that kind of lockdown, so we are confident that our students will keep the masks on and be mindful of safe practices that will keep us from that kind of spike.”

Rue agreed that if students continue to abide by COVID guidelines, the university can avoid another spike. But these recent declines do not completely rule out that possibility, especially since neither Rue nor Petersen could provide any update on when the vaccine may be available to students. With a day off from school coming up on Tuesday, March 2, students who attend class online and are planning to travel for a long weekend are discouraged from doing so by the university.

“I can understand that students would want a long weekend, so I’d ask that we all think about the inevitable price of travel,” Rue said. “Who wants another two weeks of tightened restrictions?”

According to Petersen, students have been safely traveling home to quarantine and have been smart about their interactions. The university is asking students who will be traveling for an extended period of time to report that travel to Residence Life and Housing, as well as to their professors.

“Whether students are here or at home or anywhere else, if they keep to the basic guidelines that we all as a country have been following they will be safe,” he said.

Luckily for students, Governor Roy Cooper announced on Wednesday that North Carolina will be lifting the 10:00 p.m. curfew on Friday. Since the curfew was enforced by the state, Petersen said that the university will no longer be enforcing the curfew either. Cooper also announced that the state will allow 30% indoor capacity at bars, 15% capacity at sports venues, and 50% capacity at gyms. According to Petersen, the university will consider these modifications in their own decision making, but did not explicitly say whether campus will transition to the previous level of Orange operating status, or Yellow.

“We are encouraged by the trend lines we are seeing. The decision of Governor Cooper to ease restrictions in our state adds further optimism that, together, we can return back to our desired operating status — Yellow, where we started back in August,” Petersen said.

This semester has brought unprecedented challenges related to COVID-19 to our campus. Though the university recorded 608 cases during the entirety of the fall semester, there are already 831 recorded cases just one month into this semester. Increased COVID-19 cases have also brought increased conduct cases, as students face consequences for failing to abide by COVID-19 guidelines. However, the university recently removed the conduct dashboard from the Our Way Forward site, making previously public information private once again.