Q: Why are we required to physically distance?
A: The latest research on SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, indicates that the pathogen is spread primarily through

  • larger respiratory droplets that are expelled when talking, laughing, singing, breathing, coughing, or sneezing;
  • aerosols (i.e., the suspension, circulation, and accumulation of smaller respiratory particles or droplets in the air); and
  • contaminated surfaces.

These transmissions occur whether a person infected with the virus is showing symptoms or not. And the more people who are gathered together in enclosed or inadequately ventilated spaces—and the longer they are exposed to one another—the higher the risk of contagion. Therefore, the most important strategy we can practice to curb the spread of COVID-19 is physical distancing. 


Q: What are Southwestern’s guidelines for physically distancing?
A: For your health and safety, please follow these guidelines:

  • Stay home whenever possible.
  • Allow only people you live with into your home.
  • Stay at least six feet away from people when away from home, whether indoors or outdoors.
  • Keep at least six feet away from drivers and passengers on public transit and in rideshares.
  • Use drive-thrus, curbside pick-ups, and delivery services to avoid physical contact with others.
  • Wear a mask during—or simply avoid—gatherings where physical distancing is not possible.


Q: How will the university be working to help students, faculty, and staff maintain physical distancing? 
A: Campus will look different this fall: our Facilities Management team has mapped pedestrian traffic flow, installed signage, and laid out furniture in classrooms, common areas, and the dining hall to promote physical distancing. In addition, Student Activities has provided the following guidance to assure that physical distancing and other safety protocols are followed during all in-person social gatherings on campus.

When hosting meetings or events in person, student organizations must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Masks or face coverings must be worn in all public spaces.
  • Students must maintain safe physical distancing (six feet apart, both indoors and outdoors).
  • Meetings and events are limited to 10 people or less unless a 25Live reservation has been confirmed by Student Activities Assistant Director Oliver Agger-Shelton (note: a reservation will normally require at least seven days’ lead time).
  • Limit all meetings and events to a maximum of 50 minutes.
  • Food and other refreshments should not be provided or shared.
  • The hosting organization must bring items to clean the space.
  • All documents to be shared should be done so digitally rather than with hard copies.
  • Students will not be allowed to travel on behalf of any student organizations.
  • Student organizations may not host any off-campus events.
  • Student organizations are able to host speakers and performers virtually; however, in-person speakers and performers will not be permitted.