Orange Phase Extended, but On-Campus Rules Relaxed
The most recent Furman Focused email left some students relieved, yet confused about new protocols.
Students share their excitement, but also their concern about indoor dining resuming.
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Friday morning brought exciting news for Furman students in the third weekly Furman Focused update. Effective Jan. 29 at dinner, the Dining Hall resumed indoor eating, last semester’s campus housing visitation rules returned and the administration allowed club sports to resume under specific guidelines.
An additional change was that indoor and outdoor events are now permitted to resume, so long as they are limited to ten people and maintain the protocols listed under Furman’s Paladin Promise guidelines. The email also announced extended library hours, opening of academic buildings on weekdays, the PAC’s reopening and the reduction of mandatory COVID-19 testing for students. Student reactions to these changes have been generally positive; sophomore Jackson Blackman cited the extension of library hours as the change he is most grateful for, as he thinks it helps brings back a sense of normalcy, while sophomore Nate Johnson said, “the PAC reopening has the most impact on my personal life here on campus.”
While the changes brought excitement on campus, not everything is back to normal. Campus will remain in the Orange: High Precautions phase for at least the next week. The administration made the decision to keep the campus in orange due to the most recent testing results, which indicated a higher positivity rate than the last, with 16 asymptomatic cases yielding a .92% positivity rate. Seventeen people are in campus quarantine, filling 7% of available isolation space. These results prompted the university to once again remind students to keep their contact low over each 48-hour period and avoid going off-campus whenever possible.
With the recently resumed indoor seating, tables in every on-campus dining option except for the PalaDen are now open for students. However, the administration requested that students leave the Dining Hall once they are finished eating rather than linger inside after meals. Junior Molly Ford said that this “is a step in the right direction,” but she knows several underclassmen who would like even more indoor eating options, such as the PalaDen, so they do not have to eat outside in the cold or back in their dorms.
The last major change outlined in the email related to COVID-19 testing frequency. Starting the week of Feb. 1, Furman suspended its weekly testing of the entire student body and moved instead to randomly test 50% of on-campus students each week. Furman does not plan to test faculty and staff this week but will resume testing of employees in following weeks.
This new phase has inspired a variety of opinions. Some, such as sophomore Jeff Beaudoin, like the less-restrictive orange phase, as Beaudoin believes “people will do as they please regardless of the rules.” but by reopening the Dining Hall and the PAC, the updates prevent students from breaking the rules by going off-campus to eat and workout. On the contrary, Jackson Blackman thinks the “relaxed orange phase will not change anything on campus" but still hopes it will be effective in lowering cases.
While the new changes are not as big as many students hoped for, it is a step closer to a relatively normal semester. As long as students continue to follow Furman’s guidelines and remain responsible in their interactions with their peers, campus may return to a kind of normalcy sometime in the near future.