Nearly 1,000 colleges or universities across the US have welcomed students back to campus for the fall and now face the unfamiliar task of keeping case counts low amid a global pandemic. A recent Office Pulse study helps to outline some of the best ways to ensure the health and safety of students, faculty and staff.
While much emphasis has been placed on the virus’ effect on people over 60, young people are not immune to the coronavirus. A recent Harvard study of hospitalized COVID-19 patients aged 18-34 found a staggering one in five required intensive care. Keeping students safe is paramount and should not be taken lightly.
The Office Pulse survey found a majority (54%) were uncomfortable with sending their immediate family members to college campuses this fall. However, on-campus mask mandates, temperature scans and limited capacity requirements all promise to bring more comfort to families. Over two-thirds (68%) said frequent cleanings would make them more comfortable.
Arguably one of the most important aspects of responding effectively to the coronavirus is education. SafeColleges offers training courses, daily health check-ins and tips for staying healthy – directed specifically toward college students and staff.
Mitigating the risk of COVID-19 on college campuses will require not only care but constant attention. A recent study by researchers at Harvard and Yale suggests using rapid, inexpensive tests to screen everyone on campus every two days. That, coupled with ‘strict behavioral interventions,’ such as mask requirements and symptom monitoring, would ‘permit the safe return of students to campus,’ according to the study. Captivate | Scan can give colleges the hands-off help they need with face mask detection, a body temperature scanner, a hand sanitizer dispenser and a custom communication portal.
Take a data-driven approach to keeping outbreaks to a minimum. Few places have handled the pandemic as effectively as New Zealand, and now the country’s government has made its contact tracing app, SaferMe, available for use – for free – by businesses and organizations around the globe. Tech company Avaya also released a contact tracing technology that employs AI virtual agents for an advanced approach to reducing coronavirus risk.
As much as college administrators love to plan, the best coronavirus response is often a truly flexible one. Dartmouth College’s famous D-Plan offers students the opportunity to customize their own term plans to suit their preferences, a policy that has come in handy throughout the pandemic. When one-size-fits-all is truly out of the question, let students communicate their own needs – and design their own plans to accommodate them.
A safe return to campus isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple plan, carried out thoroughly and effectively, can make all the difference.