As we live in what seems to be a temporary, alternate universe, where our daily routines have been uprooted and replaced with new unfamiliar habits, it can bring a lot of uncertainty, fear, anxiety, and helplessness, not to mention those pesky “what if?” questions that keep our minds spinning. However, in times like this, it’s important to focus on what we can control. The good news is, there is something within our control that each of us can do to contribute in the fight against COVID-19 – that is Social Distancing.
Up until a few weeks ago, many of us had never even heard of the term ‘Social Distancing’ and now it seems to have taken over our daily conversations.
Not long ago, many people decried screen time as an epidemic. But now that humanity finds itself in the midst of an actual disease pandemic, screens are proving to be a boon to the species. Progress in digital technology has perhaps never been more evident than in this moment of widespread social distancing measures.
Without today’s technology, “social distancing” would have meant isolation. From work, education and errands to leisure activities and socializing, technology is making “social distancing” possible with minimal sacrifice compared to what previous generations would have had to endure to achieve the same degree of physical separation.
It is of course true that looking at screens for prolonged periods has its downsides and that moderation is important. But the use of technology to help people stay connected and keep society running smoothly during this pandemic is turning the narrative that digital technology threatens human interaction and happiness upside‐down.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing is a public health practice that aims to prevent sick people from coming in close contact with healthy people in order to reduce opportunities for disease transmission. It can include large-scale measures like cancelling group events or closing public spaces, as well as individual decisions such as avoiding crowds.
With COVID-19, the goal of social distancing right now is to slow down the outbreak in order to reduce the chance of infection among high-risk populations and to reduce the burden on health care systems and workers. Experts describe this as “flattening the curve,” which generally refers to the potential success of social distancing measures to prevent surges in illness that could overwhelm health care systems.
All of these recommendations are meant to help foster compliance with what many public health officials say is one of the most important strategies for everyone to comply with (not just those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 or feel sick): social distancing.
Social distancing is not an easy thing to do, but it’s necessary when facing a pandemic. Given that it can feel extreme, lonely and sad to avoid people, here’s how you can do your part to reduce the spread of the virus, but still stay sane and feel connected to those you love. Remember, it’s a temporary measure that can help protect countless others (and yourself) in the long run.
How do I practice social distancing?
The CDC defines social distancing as it applies to COVID-19 as “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.”
This means “no hugs, no handshakes.”
It’s particularly important—and perhaps obvious—to maintain that same 6-foot distance from anyone who is demonstrating signs of illness, including coughing, sneezing, or fever.
Along with physical distance, proper hand-washing is important for protecting not only yourself but others around you—because the virus can be spread even without symptoms.
It is recommended to wash hands any time you enter from outdoors to indoors, before you eat, and before you spend time with people who are more vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19, including older adults and those with serious chronic medical conditions.
On the broader scale, a number of actions taken in recent days are designed to encourage social distancing, including:
- Schools, colleges, and universities suspending in-person classes and converting to remote online instruction
- Cities cancelling events, including sporting events, festivals, and parades
- Workplaces encouraging or mandating flexible work options, including telecommuting
- Organizations and businesses cancelling large gatherings, including conferences
- Houses of worship suspending services
Why is social (physical) distancing so important?
- Health officials have repeatedly stated that physically distancing ourselves from other people is critical to try and limit the spread of COVID-19 as best we can.
- The rationale behind social (physical) distancing is to try and avoid a huge spike in COVID-19 cases that will put too much strain on our health care system all at once. If everyone gets sick at the same time, hospitals will be overwhelmed, and won’t have the capability to provide the necessary treatment for everyone.
- Instead, we can focus our efforts to “flatten the curve” and prevent that spike in cases. If everyone does their part and practices social (physical) distancing to slow the rate of COVID-19 spread, it will give hospitals a fighting chance to continue to have room, necessary supplies and health care providers for all patients who need care. This will protect those individuals at greatest risk of serious complications or death.
Tips For Remote Work During Social Distancing
Social distancing or providing for at least 6 feet of space between individuals is one of the key recommendations from the CDC to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. One way to facilitate social distancing on campus is to have employees work remotely. Currently, each Division is completing an employee-by-employee assessment of whether each person can work at home or must work here on campus.
Your supervisor will tell you if you have been deemed one of the employees who must be on campus to perform the bulk of your work duties.
Employees who work from home will be assigned their regular or alternative duties and are expected to put in a full workday. Your supervisor will work with you to make sure you have everything you need to do that effectively at home.
Whether you are asked to work remotely or must report to campus to work, keep in mind that you may not be doing your job in precisely the same way you have always done it. You may be asked to perform other related duties for the duration of this period. We ask every member of our community to be flexible and patient as we navigate this unprecedented territory.
Below are a set of Frequently Asked Questions that we think you will find helpful:
Which employees are expected to work at home?
Any full-time or part-time employee (including union employees) who can do his/her job effectively at home will work remotely beginning as soon as practical and after discussion and approval from your immediate supervisor.
How do I prepare to work at home?
Each of us knows what we need to do our jobs. You can get ready by making sure you have the appropriate equipment, e.g., a computer with access to your files, internet access in your home, any paper files or records you need to do your job, a reliable phone (mobile and/or landline), etc.
I cannot do my job from home. Can I still come on campus to work?
You should discuss your situation with your immediate supervisor who will try to identify alternative work that you can do from home or find a way to sustain social distancing so that you can work in the office.
I am an hourly employee. How will I be paid?
We expect you to work your regular hours each day. You will record your time using the online timesheet. Questions about your time should be directed to your immediate supervisor.
What if I want to work outside of my regular hours?
Hourly employees should only work during their regularly scheduled hours. Any time worked above your regularly scheduled hours must be pre-approved by your supervisor in writing BEFORE you work them. This includes any time you spend using electronic communications for work purposes. Hourly employees should not check for, read, send, or respond to work-related emails/voicemails, texts, or documents outside of your regular work schedule unless authorized by your supervisor to do so. An hourly employee who works pre-approved hours between 36.25 and 40 must record these hours on that pay period’s timesheet and will be paid at one and one-half times the rate of regular pay or compensatory time, as required by federal law. An hourly employee who works pre-approved hours in excess of 40 hours per week must record these hours on that pay period’s timesheet and will be paid at one and one-half times the rate of regular pay, as required by federal law.
I have an underlying condition that makes me susceptible to complications if I contract COVID-19. How soon can I start working remotely?
These requests for accommodation are being handled on a case-by-case basis. You should discuss your work arrangements with your supervisor. You do not need to tell your supervisor any personal health information. If you prefer, you can begin the discussion with HR who will reach out to your supervisor regarding the work considerations.
I am an essential employee who must come to campus to work. What is being done to keep me safe?
The College has continued enhanced cleaning around our campus. If you are working on campus, you will be asked to practice stringent social distancing. This means you should work at least 6 feet away from any other person to the greatest extent possible. You should also practice the self-protection guidelines – wash your hands frequently, keep your hands away from your face. Greet others with a nod, or a wave or fist or elbow bump instead of a handshake.
I supervise someone who is a temporary, on-call or occasional employee? Will they get paid?
Generally, temporary, on-call or occasional employees only get paid for hours they work on our campus. If you have an employee in this category who you must assign essential work during this period, they should record any hours they work and they will be paid for them. Contact HR if you have any questions.
This article was brought to you by Safe Space. Safespace is itself a provider a safety technologies and provides related services as required by its customers.
SafeSpace: A Safety System that Qualifies, Secures and Monitors travellers for Zero Contagion during Travel and beyond. It believes that there are 4 key was in which social distancing can be made a success or followed. They are as follows:
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SafeSpace also believes that there are few solutions from which we can manage people’s movement in public place such as:
- Sanitization Management
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EMAIL ADDRESS [email protected]
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