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Lessons Learned— Creating Community to Stop the Spread Now, armed with an understanding that our students were willing to risk their health, suspension and even expulsion because they perceived a high-cost of forgoing normal socialization, we realize that creating real, meaningful opportunities to socialize and connect, rather than strict punishments, is the key to stop the spread on campus. Our public health approaches should take this perspective into account. College leaders must try to develop virtual alternatives that would satisfy the need for socialization while minimizing risk. To alleviate student worries about their future careers, schools can provide mentorships where the mentor and mentee schedule regular zoom meetings, student counselors should also be available by zoom as a safe space to address student concerns. Clubs and other extracurricular activities do not have to be put on hold entirely during corona. There are many software solutions to hold virtual meet and greets, trivia nights, virtual fitness classes, movie nights, game nights, book clubs, or religious services to offer a few ideas. With a little creativity, institutions can cultivate a sense of belonging and connection among students and faculty. Ultimately, as some degree of “sanction” was appropriate, our students were asked to perform community service in a COVID-safe manner which delivered a lesson and had the added benefit of making them feel socially connected. It’s important to remember, when talking about safety and risks, our messages should not simply rely on the medical model (“as your doctor I’m telling you what to do/not do). Large numbers and statistics will not impel them to change behavior. Instead, we need to make it personal. Find anecdotes of young people, or loved ones, who have gotten severely sick to make the point. To deliver the most persuasive argument, make the messages emotional, immediate and personal to compel students to make the necessary changes to keep us all safe and healthy. As appeared in University Business on October 8, 2020.

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