Pandemic behaviour: Students report being supportive of, abiding by health official guidelines

In a survey administered by The Ubyssey, UBC students have reported themselves to be following the recommendations of health officials and supportive of BC health authorities’ current guidelines.

The Ubyssey received 142 responses from UBC students for an online survey distributed on UBC-related Facebook groups and the r/UBC subreddit. The survey asked questions about their behaviour during the pandemic, their observation of others’ behaviour and their opinion on the guidelines.

In early May, BC began the rollout of its COVID-19 restart plan. Phase one, prior to mid-May, consisted of the suspension of many non-essential businesses, the banning of large gatherings and the banning of sit-down service at restaurants.

Recently, BC began phase two of its plan, which includes resuming non-essential surgeries, allowing museums and libraries to open and allowing personal service businesses, like barbers and nail salons, to open with appropriate distancing measures.

Broad support for BC’s COVID-19 guidelines

A majority of students surveyed ranked the phase one restrictions as “neither too lenient nor too strict” while most of the remaining students thought the restrictions were too lenient. The students’ thoughts on phase two guidelines were similar to phase one, however a significant number of students shifted their votes to “too lenient” or “much too lenient.”

UBC students also tend to see themselves as more respectful of health authorities’ guidelines than those around them. When asked how they thought others had been following recommendations, 69 per cent of students rated others as less respectful of recommendations than they had reported of themselves. Most of the other surveyed students believed themselves to be as respectful of the guidelines as others.

However, it should be noted that limiting non-essential trips outside the home is advised to help slow the infection. Therefore, the respondents’ perception of others may have been biased as they wouldn’t have seen people who are limiting non-essential trips as frequently as those who aren’t.

When asked about the importance of following the guidelines, third-year psychology student and Vancouver resident Jong Yong Park said “it’s the only way that I can contribute to ending the situation . . . it’s the least I can do.”

Park also cited the controversy over a large crowd gathering in Trinity-Bellwoods park in Toronto as motivation for stricter enforcement of the guidelines.

“I would like to not see that here in Vancouver. I don’t really have an opinion about the guidelines, but it’s just that I’d like them enforced more strictly,” he said.

The students surveyed also remained committed to infection control measures moving forward. Fifty-six per cent of students surveyed said they would follow the advice of health authorities “always” in phase two with another 39 per cent indicating that they would follow recommendations “most of the time.”

Better at avoiding non-essential trips, worse at hand washing

Student responses varied when asked about which guidelines they had found themselves to be better or worse at following. However, a plurality of students indicated that limiting non-essential trips outside their home was the pandemic control measure they had found the greatest success at following. When asked about the infection control measures they had followed the least, regular hand washing and avoiding touching their eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands topped the list.

When asked if she thought she was doing enough, third-year biomedical engineering student and Vancouver resident Atoosa Mahmoudian said that she didn’t think she was.

“I don’t really like face masks. So that part, I don’t really follow that guideline,” she said. “I do try to keep a two-metre distance with everyone on the sidewalk, in the bus or in any shop that I go to.”

Mahmoudian said she understood the reasoning for the strict BC guidelines.

“I would rather stay at home a little bit longer to make sure that everyone would be safe.”