Just when you thought it was safe to go back to your college homecoming again, Guilford County Health Director Dr. Iulia Vann is reminding everyone that COVID-19 is still around.

Vann has sent out an “open letter” to local colleges and universities to remind them that COVID-19, while largely out of people’s minds, remains a threat.

Her letter warns that students, staff and alumni should remain vigilant of the potential spread of COVID-19 and monkeypox during their homecoming events.

North Carolina A&T State University famously has one of the biggest and most energetic homecoming celebration in the country. So that’s one event where a lot of people will be in very close proximity.  Also, because A&T’s homecoming will be on Halloween weekend, that Saturday night clubs in downtown Greensboro will have wall to wall people and the streets and sidewalks will be jam packed as well.

Other area schools also have homecoming celebrations on the calendar, with a lot of people coming in from all over the country.

Vann’s letter, directed “To whom it may concern,” begins on a cheery note:  “It’s that time of year again when students, faculty, staff, and alumni begin preparing for what is most universities’ largest event of the year – Homecoming! We know first-hand that this is a busy and exciting time, especially here in Guilford County as we are home to over four colleges and universities.”

She states that the letter is a “friendly reminder” about the ways colleges and universities can keep down the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases during the mass gatherings that often involve hugging and other close contact.

Her letter offers four pieces of advice to reduce the chance of transmission of the diseases…

(1) Encourage students, staff, faculty, and alumni to all get boosted for COVID-19.

(2) Encourage pre-event and post-event testing using home tests or other methods.

(3) Promote monkeypox education. Vann notes, “While cases in Guilford County are lower than other parts of the state and country – gatherings that include many out of town guests can increase the risk of transmission.”

(4) Practice social distancing and other 2020 and 2021 pandemic measures.  The health director notes that, while masking and social distancing are no longer mandated by the county or the state, it’s still “a great idea” to take precautions whenever possible.  Vann’s letter also encourages frequent hand washing.

Anyone who wants copies of printable materials to share with students, faculty, alumni or others can email the Health Department’s communications manager at ksmith3@guilfordcountync.gov.