Two new rapid expert consultations from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine offer lessons learned from the 2020 fall semester regarding COVID-19 testing and guidance on student behavior, as college administrators plan for the 2021 spring semester.
Encouraging Protective Covid-19 Behaviors Among College Students explores how schools can encourage students to adopt behaviors that help prevent spread of the virus, such as mask wearing and physical distancing. Findings from developmental psychology and brain research about adolescent and young adult behavior can guide campus leaders: many adolescents and young adults are socially driven, with a strong desire for reward and acceptance. Identity, agency, and autonomy are centrally important during the college years — and exploration and risk taking are a normative part of development.
COVID-19 Testing Strategies for Colleges and Universities says that based on campus responses in the fall 2020 semester, fast, frequent testing can help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in a large and diverse university community, but it is only one part of a larger response. A comprehensive approach to preventing the virus requires colleges to rapidly isolate COVID-19 cases and quarantine their close contacts, and use contact tracing, mask wearing, and physical distancing, among other measures.
Undertaken by the Societal Experts Action Network, Encouraging Protective Covid-19 Behaviors Among College Students was sponsored by the National Science Foundation. COVID-19 Testing Strategies for Colleges and Universities was sponsored by The David and Lucille Packard Foundation and conducted in collaboration with the Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.
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