Social Distancing on Campus

In the early months of this year, the world came to a grinding halt. In the wake of a global pandemic, schools and colleges had to decide how to proceed quickly. Campuses closed their doors, classes made the switch to online to finish out the semester, and students were left in limbo. Some businesses closed their doors, and others shifted into high gear to provide essential goods and services to the public. In the few months of quarantine, we’ve seen significant changes. Now, as we are experiencing a re-opening, we must find a balance between our old way of life and our lessons from quarantine.

No one is quite sure what the next few months will bring. We’d all like to go back to our old lives, but we’ll face certain limitations in the future. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve become familiar with safety procedures that we’ll soon have to apply on a mass scale. You’ll want to know how to mix the crucial parts of social distancing with the return to the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

So, how can you navigate life in this post-quarantine world, while preserving the health and safety of yourself and others? Here is some info and a few tips and tricks that will allow you to get back to normal–Or more accurately, adjust to a new normal.

Social Distancing on Campus

What is social distancing?

Social distancing, also called physical distancing, is the practice of stopping or slowing the spread of a virus or other illness by maintaining a distance between yourself and another person to avoid becoming infected or infecting someone else.

What is the distance required for proper social distancing? 

For coronavirus, the proper range for social distancing is six feet, or about two arms’ lengths.

Life with Social Distancing on Campus

Universities are working with these new regulations and guidelines in different ways to ensure the safety of students and staff while still preserving traditional educational structures. How exactly will they be doing this?

Making Some Changes

Many colleges that have decided students will return to campus for the fall semester have chosen to start classes earlier than usual and end them earlier as well. The term will end before Thanksgiving break and students will not return to campus after the holiday. This new end of term date is meant to eliminate travel back and forth to campus surrounding Thanksgiving.

Here’s how one of our eCampus.com partner schools, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is handling their on-campus classes:

  • Early start and end of the semester
  • Classes will be held on Labor Day, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day
  • The college is working to make face coverings available to faculty and staff
  • Each on-site employee can receive two washable coverings to use while on campus

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is also working with their online bookstore management team, Books by eCampus, to ensure students are prepared with the course materials they need by supporting online ordering with ship-to-home and ship-to-campus options.

Some colleges plan to integrate online courses due to social distancing and space limitations. Miami University in Oxford, Ohio intends to make selective accommodations for students with serious health concerns and those who need to self-isolate. Miami is working with its local hospital to develop a system for testing and isolating residential students who may be exposed to the virus in a way to ensure these students can continue their studies in place while protecting other students, faculty, and staff. Books by eCampus has partnered with Miami University since 2017 and will continue to provide flexible textbook ordering and shipping options for students regardless of where they will reside for the Fall 2020 semester. 

Campuses are doing their part to create a hygienic environment for learning. Clark State University will be enforcing physical distancing protocols and procedures for campus locations such as classrooms and libraries, and at outdoor events. The school will also be providing student health services and support, practicing “frequent and aggressive cleaning of facilities and surfaces,” making hand sanitizer available, and placing distancing stickers and health and hygiene messaging around their campus. Students will be asked to follow the Return to Campus Daily Checklist and make the decisions they believe are in the best interest of their fellow students. Having course materials available through their Books by eCampus online bookstore has proven invaluable, allowing students to purchase their professor-selected course materials from the comfort of their homes. 

On-Campus Housing

In the spring, almost all colleges and universities closed their campuses and dorms and made the switch to online learning. Residential students were displaced. Some returned home to their families; others were displaced and left looking for somewhere to stay. But soon, in the fall semester, many colleges and universities plan to reopen their campuses, and with them, the dorms and residence halls. But how will they go about this without repeating the past? What can they do to house their students with minimal risk of an outbreak?

Some campuses plan to subject students to “COVID-19 Screening activities” in order to determine their eligibility for on-campus housing. Some universities will require face coverings in the halls and communal areas of the residence halls (but not in-room or with a roommate, as the room is considered a private or family residence).

Campuses closing on the new end date of the semester will be making accommodations for residential students who cannot depart.

Everyday Personal Health and Safety

In the last few months of quarantine, you’ve probably picked up a thing or two. We all know basic social distancing guidelines, but as we reenter society and trek the uncharted territory of COVID-19-aware college campuses, it’s good to have a reminder. The CDC names six essential steps on “How to Protect Yourself and Others.”

Personal Hygiene

1.) Wash your hands often!

Frequent hand washing is an essential part of staying healthy and preventing the spread of germs. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. If you find you cannot wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

For the general public, the CDC recommends wearing gloves when cleaning and disinfecting your home or caring for someone who is sick. Gloves are not required for most other tasks, and guidelines for healthcare and work settings differ.

TIP: Many people find it helpful to sing 20-second songs or song fragments while washing their hands. Check out “Being smarter in 2020: Songs to sing while washing your hands,” on Tuscan.com for hand-washing tunes!

2.) Cover coughs and sneezes

Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If a tissue is not available to you, use the inside of your elbow. Do not spit. 

Do not cough or sneeze into your hand, openly, or on others. Remember to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer immediately after sneezing or coughing.

3.) Clean and disinfect

Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. Then, use a household disinfectant. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work.

Social Distancing and Virus Protection

4.) Wear a mask!

Wearing a mask is vital to preserving public health. Some cases are asymptomatic, meaning the infected person does not show symptoms or “become” sick. This means anyone could have the virus and be completely unaware, and could unwittingly spread COVID-19 to others. This is why everyone who can wear a face mask should.

Officials recommend wearing a cloth mask (or mask-like covering) when coming within 6-feet of another person, in crowded settings, or generally when leaving your home. For these reasons, it’s safe to assume you should wear masks on campus.

When wearing a mask:

  • Do: Make sure you can breathe through it.
  • Do: Make sure it covers your nose and mouth.
  • Do: Wear it whenever going out in public.
  • Do: Wash your mask after use (if reusable).
  • Do: Continue to wash your hands often.
  • Don’t: Put masks on children under 2 years of age.
  • Don’t: Put masks on anyone who has trouble breathing.
  • Don’t: Put masks on anyone unconscious or otherwise unable to remove the mask without help.
  • Don’t: Use face masks as a substitute for social distancing.
  • Don’t: Reuse disposable masks and respirators.

The CDC strongly advises against using a facemask “meant for a healthcare worker.” This would include N-95 respirators and other surgical masks used by healthcare workers in direct contact with patients. This is likely because of the global mask shortage, which has hit the medical community hard. Healthcare workers need these masks to preserve the health and safety of their patients, as well as themselves, from COVID-19 and other viruses and infectious diseases they may come into contact with in their line of work. The CDC recommends that “Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example, to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.”

TIP: Make sure you’ve got it right! Check out The San Francisco Department of Public Health ‘s article, “How to Put on and Remove a Face Mask,” for more on how to safely wear a mask or face covering.

5.) Avoid close contact (Practice Social Distancing)

Avoid close contact with others, especially people who are sick. It is difficult to know if someone else has contracted the virus, as some people with the virus are asymptomatic (do not show symptoms or “become” sick). Because of this, it is important to try to put distance between yourself and all other people outside of your home. Maintain six feet of space between yourself and others, if possible. Do the same with others in your home if they become sick.

Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick. Vulnerable people, such as the elderly and people who are immunocompromised, face serious complications with the virus. To protect them and yourself, don’t get too close to others.

6.) Monitor Your Health

Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19. This is especially important if you are running essential errands, going into the office or workplace, and in settings where it may be challenging to keep a physical distance of 6 feet.

Take your temperature if symptoms develop. Don’t take your temperature within 30 minutes of exercising or after taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen.

What happens next is a big unknown. It is only when everyone does their part that we can feel secure in our efforts. Practice social distancing and follow your school’s rules and guidelines this fall. We’re all in this together. 

Be sure to connect with us, @ecampusdotcom on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook for more resources, tips, and some great giveaways! And when it’s time for textbooks, eCampus.com has you covered for all your course material needs at savings up to 90%!

Works Cited

  1. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public.” World Health Organization. WHO, 2020. Web. 29 Apr. 2020.
  2. Cherney, Kristeen. “Does Wearing a Mask Protect You from the Flu and Other Viruses?Healthline. Healthline Media a Red Ventures Company, 2005-2020. Web. 18 Mar. 2020.
  3. Crawford, Gregory P. “Miami announces plans for fall 2020 return.” Miami University. Miami University, 2020. Web. 5 June. 2020.
  4. Mitchell, Madeline. “Miami University will return to campus for fall, plans to finish classes by Thanksgiving.” Cincinnati.com, The Enquirer. www.cincinnati.com, 2020. Web. 5 June, 2020.
  5. Fall 2020 Semester Information.” University of Massachusetts Amherst. University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2020. Web.
  6. Cloth Face Coverings Available for UMass Employees.” University of Massachusetts Amherst. University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2020. Web.
  7. Godoy, Maria. “Yes, Wearing Masks Helps. Here’s Why.” Shots Health News from NPR. NPR, 2020. Web. 21 June. 2020.
  8. Face Coverings Do’s and Don’ts.” Dallas College. Dallas College, 2020.
  9. Not All Face Masks are Created Equal: Know Which Type of Face Mask You Need and When.” Atrium Health. Atrium Health, 2020. Web. 22 April. 2020. 
  10. Chotiner, Isaac. “How to Maintain Social Distance as the U.S. Reopens.” The New Yorker. Condé Nast, 2020. Web. 25 May. 2020.
  11. Preventing the spread of the coronavirus.” Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard University, 2020. Web. March. 2020.

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