Back to college during the pandemic – new lessons students must learn

Returning back to college in the new normal? Here’s what students need to know in the pandemic.

2020 is a time when you have to hope for the best, but be ready for the worst because much of the planet is under lockdown, fighting a pandemic that doesn’t seem to want to slow down. 

Going back to college has been a hot topics recently, because both parents and students expect the school to be quite different starting this fall. Some colleges and universities will only be open virtually this year; and many others will mix in-person classes with online tutoring when possible.

The educational institutions that are about to open and call back their students to campuses need to adopt strict sanitation procedures, limit their dining options, accommodate the students in solo dorms, and reduce class sizes. But is it safe for students to go back to school?  

Many young people think they don’t have to worry about COVID-19 because the chances for of them experiencing health issues are small considering their youth and healthy immune system.

But statistics show that everyone can get sick, even children and young adults, so if the college asks them to return to campus, it’s best to stay safe and respect social distancing guidelines. Students should be prepared to learn some new lessons when they return to universities. 

How can students stay safe when going back to college?

Even if young people don’t experience the same severity of symptoms that older people do, the vast majority of current cases are in age groups that include college students, and many of them require hospitalisation.

This condition can take them out of class and potentially hurt their classmates, who may suffer from other life-threatening health issues. So it’s vital to learn to reduce exposure. 

If you are a student returning to school starting this fall, you can take some precautions to protect yourself and your fellow students and tutors. Before you travel to the university or college, contact them to find out what safety procedures they have in place.

Some schools have reserved move-in times for each student so you won’t meet with other students in shared spaces and elevators. If your college doesn’t have solo dorms available, consider the option of staying off campus in great student locations. An out-of-campus student accommodation allows you to reduce the interaction with others. 

Medical experts also recommend that students practice social distancing during classes and on campus. Even if you missed your friends and below students and are glad to see each other again, you must stay at a minimum of six feet apart from other people and always wear a mask, even if your college doesn’t mandate it.

Choose a design you like and your mask could be the most fashionable accessory you can wear, so make it a ritual to cover your face before you leave your room. 

When in the dorm room, or at your rented flat, open a window to increase ventilation. Wash your hands regularly, and use hand sanitiser before touching your face. When joining a class, use wet wipes to clean the desk and chair both before and after using it.

And while the parties may be one of the best parts of your college years, this year it’s advisable to avoid large gatherings and crowded spaces like communal spaces and gyms. If your college has a buffet or dining area, pick your food and carry it to an outdoor spot or your room. 

What should students bring with them?

As you already guessed, you should pack your luggage with masks to cover your face. Doctors also recommend having disinfecting wipes and hand sanitiser in your bag to clean your hands and wipe the places you touch out and about on campus. Buy hand sanitiser with a minimum of 60% alcohol to remove viruses effectively. 

Also, bring your notebooks, pens, and laptop to avoid sharing them with other people. You can also use online services like Studocu to share documents with your fellow students.

For your accommodation, bring a bath caddy to store your toiletries without touching the surface, when you share the bathroom. Always keep the cleaning supplies at hand, and pack over-the-counter medicine and a thermometer before leaving home.

It’s essential to have a basic medical kit to treat your symptoms when you live alone. If one of your colleagues is tested positive, you’ll have to self-isolate, and it’s best to have all the supplies you need. 

What if there are COVID-19 outbreaks?

Public health specialists expect the number of outbreaks to grow once students come to campuses. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that schools will close again and students travel back to their homes. 

If people, exposed to a positive patient travel back home, they put their families and even their communities at risk. Colleges are taking measures to manage outbreaks and to handle COVID-19 patients in campuses.

It’s best for students to stay on campus even if diagnosed with the new virus because the college has better methods to monitor and treat the condition, than parents may have at home. 

If you are confirmed as having COVID-19, it’s wise to minimise travel. Even if you may feel more comfortable returning home to your parents, it’s best to isolate from everyone.

Your college’s health centre has probably seen patients with coronavirus the last couple of months, so they’re experts in treating the symptoms. If you stay in your dorm, the school can provide you with food and treatment, and assess your state. As a young adult, you’ll probably feel sick for three or four days and then feel better. 

Prepare to get tested even if you have symptoms or not. Most colleges bring their students back only after they test everyone, and restrict activities to lower the chances to meet someone who can pass them the virus. They also create spaces where you can be quarantined to make sure they don’t expose other students to coronavirus. 

It’s essential to listen to what experts have to say before you allow anxiety and concerns to control your actions. Keep an open dialogue with your school to find out if there are extra measures you must take to protect yourself.

And finally, most colleges and universities have counselling centres you can call or visit if you do feel stressed or anxious.