Newswise — A student-built mathematical simulation shows that college campuses are particularly prone to rapid spreading of COVID-19, and why quick COVID-19 testing and symptom reporting is so important for finding and isolating infected individuals to slow the spread of the virus.

The model shows that multiple networks accelerate the spread by shuffling the population. 

“Eventually, we realized that an extreme case of this shuffling happened on a typical American university campus, where each student is put into contact with a different group of people each hour, and so the population is completely shuffled every hour,” said Cécile Piret, associate professor of mathematical sciences at Michigan Technological University. “Would the standard measures of social distance and using face coverings suffice to stop the spread?”

To answer the questions raised in the class, Piret said unfortunately, based on the model, standard measures of using face coverings and social distancing will not be sufficient protection in a college environment.

“In order to prevent a spread, much stronger measures must be taken,” she said.