How can college kids reduce COVID risk on campus?

Young people are at risk of catching and getting very sick with COVID-19. But if you or your teenager have decided to head back to campus, the usual safety principles (people, place, time, and space) apply. But here are some specific tips to reduce your risk at college.

Preparing to come to campus

  • Some colleges may require testing before coming to campus.
  • Be prepared to quarantine for 14 days before arriving on campus and upon arrival on campus.  
  • Bring your own supplies of hand sanitizer, soap, and disinfectant wipes.
  • Pack a simple first aid kit including thermometer and cold medicine.
  • Bring a supply of masks so you always have a clean one available.
  • Get a flu vaccine if it’s available. If not, then watch for it to be available through campus health services.

Going to class

  • Be prepared to switch to online learning.
  • Select virtual learning options when possible for large classes.
  • Make sure there is distancing of at least 6 feet between people for in-person classes.
  • Bring disinfectant wipes to clean your desk surface and wash or sanitize your hands before and after class.
  • Have a plan to arrive and leave class while avoiding crowding at entrances and exits.
  • Wear a mask during class.
  • Study in outdoor spaces or in your room.

Living on campus

  • Follow all campus guidelines on distancing and testing.
  • Choose a single room if possible.
  • If you have a roommate, try to maximize ventilation. Open a window. 
  • Use shared bathroom spaces at less crowded times. If you have a shared bathroom, then bring a tote with your things to the bathroom to limit contact with surfaces. Do not place your toothbrush on the sink.
  • Use the laundry room at less crowded times.  Don’t hang out in the laundry room while waiting for your laundry.  Take your clean laundry to your room to fold.
  • Avoid sharing items even with roommates.

Having fun on campus

  • Avoid large gatherings, particularly indoors.
  • Choose outdoor gatherings where you can distance or virtual options.
  • Exercise outdoors instead of at the gym.
  • Create a social bubble or pod on campus. Hang out with the same group preferably people that you live with.
  • Skip bars and COVID parties.
  • Avoid traveling off campus.

Eating on campus

  • Eat outdoors or grab and go. Skip buffets or self serve.
  • Don’t share food and drinks or utensils even with roommates.
  • Use shared kitchen spaces at less crowded times.  Don’t use shared plates or utensils.

What to do if you get sick

  • Know the symptoms of COVID so you can monitor if you may be feeling sick.
  • Make a plan for what you’ll do if you start to feel sick. Who will you tell? How will you get tested? Know how to get healthcare on campus.
  • Make sure you are following contact tracing procedures on campus so you will know who you had contact with if you do get sick.
  • Be prepared to isolate. Have a bag packed with a few essentials in case you test positive and have to leave your room to isolate. Know what the campus plan is to isolate students who get sick.

If you’re back on campus, protect yourself and your friends. Distance when possible, wear a mask, and get help if you start to feel sick!

Last update: August 10, 2020 5:45 pm ET
Science review: JAB, ERS