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Social Distancing, Higher Education, and YOU

Leo Finkley |Mar 20, 2020

On March 15, 2020, the CDC urged that any gatherings of 50 or more people be canceled or postponed for the next 8 weeks. In a presidential address a day later, this recommendation was changed to suggest that gatherings of 10 or more people be avoided. So what does all this mean for higher education, students, and those that are now obligated to work from home?

What is social distancing?

Social distancing refers to certain actions that are taken by Public Health officials to stop or slow down the spread of a highly contagious disease. Simply put – the idea is to maintain a 6-foot distance between you and other people.

A 2010 study published in BioMed Central (BMC) Public Health found that social distancing reduced the number of overall flu cases. However, while social distancing may be an important factor in preventing the spread of COVID-19, practicing good hygiene and taking other safety precautions are also important steps in preventing the spread.

Students and those working remotely are all impacted by social distancing and the side effects associated with isolation.

How long will it last?

The best and most honest reply, according to epidemiologists and virologists, is simple: “It depends. It’s not going to be over anytime soon — a matter of months rather than weeks.” Here are some key factors that determine how long the distancing will last:

Although social distancing can help fight the spread of coronavirus, as social beings, we may experience negative side effects as a result of our isolation.

How Social Distancing Impacts Students and Remote Workers?

Over long periods of time, social isolation can increase the risk of a variety of health problems, including heart disease, depression, dementia, and even death. A 2015 meta-analysis of the scientific literature by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a research psychologist at Brigham Young University, determined that chronic social isolation increases the risk of mortality by 29%.

In addition to these potential health problems, students are challenged to make college decisions without the opportunity to make campus visits or make in-person inquires. With campuses closed, frustrated high school juniors face tour cancellations, and seniors won’t be able to set foot on most campuses to experience the vibe before deposits are due on May 1, National College Decision Day.

How We Can Manage the Side Effects?

Reaching out and connecting with one another during this time will be important to combat the downsides of social distancing. Isolated students and remote workers should take advantage of today’s technology to reach out to friends, and loved ones. Even just a check-up will go a long way during this time. While the many forms of electronic communication may not be as personal as face-to-face interaction, it will benefit us more than no interaction. A phone call, with a real voice, is better than text, and a video-chat is better than a phone call.

Other actions that can help boost your well-being, as well as those around you include:

As for isolated students with limited options to make informed college decisions, here are a few ways you can learn more about a post-secondary institution:

Staying calm during a pandemic can seem impossible. But, managing your stress and anxiety in a healthy way is important so you can make the best decisions possible. While social distancing may seem like a drastic step to take, it’s just a precautionary measure. And if you’re practicing it, there’s still a good chance you are healthy. Otherwise, you may be placed into a quarantine situation.

As always, we are here to assist you in any way possible to help develop or support your current and future initiatives as they evolve with the changing landscape, so please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.


Information About Social Distancing PDF.” Santa Clara Valley, n.d., Kanter, Jonathan, Adam Kuczynski, and Science of Social Connection.

“Social Distancing Comes with Social Side Effects – Here's How to Stay Connected.” The Conversation, March 17, 2020. https://theconversation.com/social-distancing-comes-with-social-side-effects-heres-how-to-stay-connected-133677. 

Mandavilli, Apoorva. “Wondering About Social Distancing?” The New York Times. The New York Times, March 16, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/16/smarter-living/coronavirus-social-distancing.html 

MillerMar, Greg, Jon CohenMar, Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, and Rodrigo Pérez Ortega. “Social Distancing Prevents Infections, but It Can Have Unintended Consequences.” Science, March 16, 2020. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/we-are-social-species-how-will-social-distancing-affect-us 

Morin, Amy. “How to Practice Social Distancing During the Coronavirus Pandemic.” Verywell Mind. Verywell Mind, March 13, 2020. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-social-distancing-4799570 

Shulman, Jill Margaret. “How to Make College Decisions When Campuses Are Closed.” The New York Times. The New York Times, March 15, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/15/well/family/coronavirus-college-visits-high-school-students.html

Wan, William. “How Long Will Social Distancing for Coronavirus Have to Last? Depends on These Factors.” The Washington Post. WP Company, March 16, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/03/16/social-distancing-coronavirus/