Universities are a place for education, career development, and expanding one’s worldview, not a place for COVID-19. As many students return to campus for the Spring 2021 semester, how can we mitigate risks and keep students healthy?
Reports from the CDC show that young, healthy people are just as susceptible to COVID-19. Young adults can spread the virus without showing symptoms. This overwhelms hospitals and endangers more immunocompromised people. As college students continue to frequent bars and parties, the virus rages.
WHAT FAMILIES CAN DO:
Talk to your student
Make sure your student understands the risks of attending in-person lectures. Explain how, even if they are not impacted by the virus, it can still lead to deadly consequences for others.
The numbers of infection and death are hard to comprehend. Instead, make sure students are getting the big picture through stories about how people are personally impacted. Be sure your student throughly understands the risks for themselves and others of on-campus learning during a pandemic.
Develop a plan
Families need to develop a plan in case someone contracts the virus. If a student falls ill, will they be allowed to come home? Or should they quarantine in a dorm? Check your university policy on whether or not infected people are allowed to stay on campus, if they will be housed in a separate place, etc. Will you allow your healthy student to visit home at all during their stay? With CDC guidelines suggesting not to travel, students should remain on campus as much as possible.
WHAT UNIVERSITIES CAN DO:
Enforce social distancing
If a university decides to permit in-person learning and dorm availability, they need to heed precautions regarding social distancing. Every possible effort should be made to enforce local guidelines. Students should all be wearing protective PPE during class. Dorm visitations should be extremely monitored and limited.
Develop a plan
All universities need to develop a plan with the help of local authorities. A seemingly endless amount of considerations need to be made, including screening/testing students, offering care for sick students, contract tracing protocols, etc. These issues vary widely based on geographical location, student population size, and local guidelines, so be sure to work with local health experts to determine how to proceed with the Spring 2021 semester.
Offer comprehensive testing and monitoring
One of the most important protocols a university can have is the monitoring and testing for positive cases. Approaches vary widely, as some universities have been testing all students twice per week, and some don’t test at all.
Surveillance testing is becoming more available, though many smaller institutions are unable to front the costs. Surveillance testing involves selecting random, healthy volunteers to test samples of the population in a way that allows experts to make inferences as efficiently as possible.
Whether the university itself provides testing or it is outsourced, be sure students are aware that testing is available and easily accessible.
College is notoriously stressful. Throw a pandemic into the mix, and student care becomes a top priority. Be sure to provide PPE to those without and offer mental care to those who need it. Don’t just wait for those who reach out, but be sure to actively seek out students who may need assistance.
Many college students understand the dangers of COVID-19. But as young people have had their lives turned upside down, many lose hope and begin to lose sight of social-distancing as we wait for the vaccine to become widely available.
Experts advise that students stay home and proceed with e-learning as much as possible. But if in-person education is a must, check out protective PPE from Global Sourcing. We're committed to protecting students and university staff with authentic, FDA-approved N95 respirators, face masks, surgical gloves, hand sanitizers, surgical gowns, and countless other PPE supplies needed to keep your school safe.