At the end of March, Harvard researchers predicted that there may be a second wave of COVID-19 infections in Fall 2020. For millions of students and parents, researchers forecasts could mean further interruptions to their educational plans.
Without intermittent social distancing, according to Harvard resesearchers, we risk, across the globe, continued epidemic outbreaks of COVID-19 and subsequent economic and social disruptions, just in time for the Fall start of school.
The work, conducted by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and led by Yonatan Grad, the Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Assistant Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, and Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology, also shows that if strict social distancing such as that imposed in China — which cuts transmission by 60 percent — is relaxed, it results in epidemic peaks in the fall and winter similar in size and with similar impacts on the health care system as those in an uncontrolled epidemic.The Harvard Gazette, March 27, 2020
Just as in the more recent pandemics of 1918, 1954, and 1968, the second wave of infections were just as disruptive for societies, when individuals relaxed their vigilence in order to preempt a return to “life as normal.”
The problem, the researchers said, is that while strict social distancing may appear to be the most effective strategy, little population-level immunity is developed to a virus that is very likely to come around again.The Harvard Gazette, March 27, 2020
So, just as college students are returning to campuses and new students are embarking on the next phase of their lives this Fall, a COVID-19 inspired health crisis may strike a second time, interrupting their college educations yet again.
The research indicates that one possible method for dealing with the epidemic amid a lack of other effective interventions may be multiple “intermittent” social-distancing periods that ease up when cases fall to a certain level and then are reimposed when they rise past a key threshold.The Harvard Gazette, March 27, 2020
The hope that “all will return to normal…soon” is fueling many to endure the current schism in daily life. The recent eviction from colleges, separation from friends for both K-12 and college students, learning how to “distance learn”, are still fresh frustrations. The possibility of further disruption this fall is not information that many current college and K-12 students want to consider, and yet it may be important to begin contemplating the realisitic possbility that, if pandemic history is prologue, then the return to normalcy may be further out on the time horizion than any of us care for or expect. Plan accordingly.
Jill Yoshikawa EdM, works tirelessly to help clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity.