Arizona State University, Chandler, AZ, USA
This project analyzes differences in how the four-year degree public universities in Arizona are handling COVID-19. Since the start of the academic year the number of positive cases in the age range of college students (20-35) has significantly increased. Universities are up against the generally held belief that college students are considered to be asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus and that if they do have symptoms, they are likely to be mild. For this reason, it can be tempting for people in the age range to fail to follow safety protocols. For this project, I am looking both at what makes students feel safe and what measures might be more effective in lowering the number of cases and thus the spread of the virus. Having data to see what measures might be most effective in lowering, preventing, or stabilizing the number of cases would be really important to acknowledge in this population. Methods: I will survey and interview students from each of these universities to get an understanding of their perceptions on COVID-19, examining both their initial and current perceptions regarding the school experience, changes made, and opinions on the university’s measures. In addition, I will track how the population changes in the zip codes of each university when students are on campus to ascertain if the influx in new cases in those zip codes can be linked to the student population. The survey and interview data will allow for the collection of qualitative data about student perceptions of both COVID-19 and of their university’s approach to dealing with the problem. Analyzing the influx of cases using population data and the reported number of cases will allow me to ascertain how the virus is spreading in these populations. With this data, I will be able to acknowledge the pros and cons of each university’s COVID-19 protocols and procedures and make recommendations about which tactics were ultimately most effective in positively changing students’ perspectives about COVID-19 and in stopping the spread of the virus on university campuses. I expect to find the number of cases between each of the universities to be similar if they are taking similar measures and that the college age group will increase the zip code of the university. With my results I anticipate I can provide recommendations for the study population and stakeholders regarding effective measures taken for COVID-19 spread.