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National Academies Release Guidance on Altering Student Behavior, COVID Testing

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine released guidance Tuesday on altering student behavior as it relates to COVID-19, as well as testing for the virus.

The first report from the National Academies makes recommendations for campus leaders looking to alter student behavior, using existing research in developmental psychology.

“Making a behavior easy to start and rewarding to repeat, tying a behavior to existing habits, providing alternatives to unwanted behaviors, and providing specific descriptions of desired behaviors are strategies that campus leaders can employ to make it more likely that protective behaviors will become habitual for students,” the National Academies said in a press release about the report. “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.”

The report was produced by the Societal Experts Action Network and sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

The second report from the National Academies concerns testing for COVID-19 on college campuses. Fast and frequent testing can limit spread on college campuses, report authors say, but testing is just one part of a comprehensive plan that needs to be tailored to an individual college or university. Ensuring a quick response to test results and setting up predetermined metrics to inform decision making can help limit spread and increase transparency, authors said.

“A comprehensive approach requires the application of epidemiology and science; rapid isolation of positive individuals and quarantine of those with potential exposures; contact tracing; environmental management; mask wearing; physical distancing; and engagement with the community, particularly local health officials,” authors said.

The report was sponsored by the David and Lucille Packard Foundation.

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