Slackline in hand, bare feet spread in Plaza of the Americas’ green grass, Germel Dasalla refused to let social distancing keep him from being outside.
The 19-year-old Santa Fe geomatics sophomore said he is practicing social distancing, but still trying to spend time in “very open, green spaces.”
College students nationwide have been forced to halt their day-to-day college life in order to slow the spread of germs during the COVID-19 outbreak. Social distancing has become one of the most advised precautionary measures students can take – if they choose to do so.
Between raiding Publix for food and supplies, sticking it out inside all day or simply doing nothing different, UF and Santa Fe students’ reactions to the urge to social distance are varied.
Dasalla said he isn’t stocking up on anything in particular, but does have plans in the case that a mandatory quarantine is put into effect.
“If we do have to quarantine, then I’m going to hike some of the Appalachian Trail,” he said. “I guess that would be distancing as much as I possibly could.”
Kallen Shaw, a 22-year-old UF public health masters student, reflected on the fact that the final semester of her master’s program will end remotely.
Now that her internship, final presentation and work with the College of Education will all be done from home, Shaw said it’s been fairly easy for her to practice social distancing.
Shaw has been able to view the outbreak and the slow-down of campus activity through the lens of a public health student, an experience she said she is grateful for professionally.
“The Department of Health reached out to our college and requested certain people to actually be the ones who contact cases,” she said. “It’s a really weird time for me because I’m like, ‘This is my job now.’”
Avoiding unnecessary trips to the grocery store as much as she can, Shaw stocked up on peanut butter, something she considers a vegan necessity.
While some students are social distancing in Gainesville, others are taking the step to move back home – some voluntarily, others out of compulsion.
Hannah Hallman, a 21-year-old UF nutritional sciences senior, said social distancing for her means moving back home to South Florida, due to her sorority house closing.
“Which is scary,” she said. “My mom told me to stop at all the grocery stores and buy toilet paper, because she’s been looking for four days and can’t find any.”
Although the outbreak is more severe in South Florida, she said, people there are taking social distancing more seriously, meaning she is expecting to be inside for a lot of the time.
To keep herself entertained in the confines of her home, Hallman plans on expanding her musical abilities.
“I’m planning on Amazon Prime-ing a ukulele and teaching myself,” she said. “That’s on the list.”
In an environment so active and intimate as a college campus, students are entering uncharted territory, and dealing with this by staying in, staying away or getting creative.
Contact Chloe Greenberg at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @_chloegreenberg.