COVID-19 on campus: 5 smart steps for students
While some colleges and universities have welcomed students back in person this fall, there are risks to resuming campus life, including COVID-19 outbreaks among students.
If you live on campus or in student housing, here are five steps to take to help protect yourself and others, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other experts.
1. Brush up on your school's policies. Be sure to know your school's guidelines when it comes to COVID-19 prevention. Learn what you should and shouldn't do—both on and off campus—and what the consequences of ignoring the rules may be.
2. Spread out. Do your best to stay at least 6 feet apart whenever you can. To help with that, try to:
- Use common areas like laundry or recreation rooms at less crowded times. And follow any posted limits on how many people can use the room at one time.
- Go through hallways or other tight spaces one at a time.
- In classrooms, skip seats or rows to allow for social distancing.
3. Mask up. Wear a cloth face mask in public spaces and in campus common areas. Also wear a mask when you leave campus, especially where it's hard to practice social distancing, like at grocery stores. Here are some helpful tips for wearing and washing your mask.
4. Wash your hands well. Give them a good scrub for 20 seconds with soap and water, especially after returning to your dorm. If you're out and about and don't have access to soap and water, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
5. Avoid sharing germs. The coronavirus is thought to spread mainly from person to person in droplets we breathe out, but it may also be possible to pick it up from the air in poorly ventilated indoor spaces or from surfaces that have droplets on them. That's why it's a good idea to:
- Avoid putting your toothbrush on the counter when using a shared bathroom.
- Use your own cups, utensils and other personal items instead of sharing with a roommate.
- Clean and disinfect shared surfaces daily.
- Keep your phone in your pocket or backpack, not on a shared desk or table.
- Steer clear of cafeteria-style meals. Choose grab-and-go options that you can take back to your room instead.
What to do if you get sick
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, don't go to classes. Stay in your dorm and contact a healthcare provider right away. They'll let you know if you need a test and how to get one.
If you test positive for the virus, you will need to isolate from others. You should stay in a separate room, if possible. And your roommates may need to quarantine as well.
You will also need to notify others you have been in close contact with that they may have been exposed to the virus. The health department can help with this.
Learn more about how to self-isolate or self-quarantine with COVID-19.