College Safety During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Dashia Starr
Updated Feb 17, 2021
5 min read

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic is bringing about a lot of big changes for adults and kids alike. Schools and colleges are making difficult decisions that will impact learning and activities for the 2020-2021 school year. We’re here to educate parents and students on the importance of staying safe and healthy in their new environment while surrounded by others during the pandemic.

2020-2021 Coronavirus College Decisions by the Numbers

Curious about what the upcoming collegiate academic year will look like? Take a look at the most recent findings from 1,210 tracked colleges from The Chronicle of Higher Education:

  • As of July 16, 55% of colleges are planning to return to school for in-person learning.
  • On the other hand, 30% of colleges are planning for a hybrid learning environment — partial virtual learning and some in-person sessions.
  • Right now, only 10% are planning for a fully virtual academic year.
  • 3.6% of the schools are still weighing a number of options while 1.2% are still waiting to decide.

How to Make the Most of College Activities During the Coronavirus Pandemic

There will be a new normal with college this fall. It’ll be a big adjustment for professors, students and staff in new and unforeseen ways. College sports and activities as we know them won’t be the same, due to the risk of spreading the virus among large crowds. Students starting in the fall will have to follow their school’s safety guidelines and get creative with safely enjoying their collegiate experience. As of now, outdoor activities are the best way to go. Here are a few safe suggestions — with social distancing in mind, of course. 

  • Biking or riding scooters 
  • Yoga or pilates 
  • Run or walk around campus 
  • Hiking any nearby trails

Some colleges may also continue to offer safe, socially distant activities and sports for you to enjoy. Reach out to your Campus Student Life department for more suggestions and a list of available activities offered by your college.

Our Conversation Guide to Talking About the Coronavirus for Colleges

Staying Safe & Healthy on Your New College Campus 

Colleges will be implementing new sanitation and social distancing guidelines to reduce the risk of spread on campus. Also, any students considered high-risk for contracting the virus will likely take extra precautions to stay healthy. Here are a few popular questions and our take on the best way to approach each concern. 

Question: I know I am young, but I’m still scared and want to avoid getting sick. However, I feel pressure from my peers ignoring health expert recommendations — which increases the risk of me getting exposed. How do I talk to them? Is there anything I can do to change their behavior, or do I need to request a new roommate that shares my beliefs?

Answer: If you have personal safety restrictions to protect your health, there are a few ways to let other students know to keep their distance or be mindful around you. 

  1. If your peers are joking and choose not to take your health concerns seriously, avoid being around them as much as possible. If you must be around them, wear a mask. Regardless of their opinions, you know you’ll be safe and limiting your risk of exposure. 
  2. If you share a dorm or living space, it’s best to speak with your Resident Assistant or Director of Housing about your concerns. They’ll be able to offer guidance and possibly change rooms for you. 

Question: I’m a student who wants to stay safe and reduce the spread of coronavirus. How do I make others around me aware that this is important to me and ask them to respect my boundaries? 

Answer: Sometimes it’s best to be open with your friends about the importance of your health. It could encourage them to be just as mindful about their own well-being. Let them know why you choose to wear a mask, disinfect surfaces, keep your distance or other precautionary measures. The reason can be as simple as you don’t want to risk getting others sick if you’re asymptomatic. 

Nowadays, wearing a mask is one way to make it clear that you care about your health and others. It’s the best visual cue when you cannot practice social distancing. 

Another concept being considered is for college students to wear a bright-colored bracelet signaling that they prefer to practice social distancing when interacting with you. If you’d like to take measures a bit further, there are a few other ways to make others aware that you have boundaries and help protect your personal space:

  • Always interact with people at a safe social distance of at least six feet. 
  • Limit the number of people in your dorm room. Instead, offer to meet them outside for social distancing activities. FaceTime and video chats work, too. 
  • If people must enter your room, ask them to sanitize their hands and wear a mask. 

Question: I have a family member who is immuno-compromised and I am scared of bringing the coronavirus to them when I come on weekends or holidays from school. How can I relay this to my peers?

Answer: Talk to your roommates about ways to follow CDC recommendations for everyone’s safety beyond campus. It’s OK to let them know that you’ll need to take extra precautions for your loved one’s safety without divulging too much of their private information. Express to your roommates what exposure to the virus could mean for your loved one if not careful. 

Before you head home, have a conversation with your family about safety precautions you should follow so you’re aware before you come home. They may be just as concerned about your whereabouts and safety as you are.

Question: College is tough in a normal year, but this year is especially tough with much more to worry about. I worry about handling stress and maintaining good health. Who can I reach out to?

Answer: Your college is equipped with a number of resources to help you navigate through the stress of COVID-19, classes and other concerns. Many colleges offer counseling, mediation classes and other health services. Check with your individual college’s website for a handy list of resources.

Here are a few online resources to consider, too. Check with your insurance provider for their therapy coverage options and other resources.

Question: I need to make money to help pay for school, but jobs I would ordinarily do — like working in a restaurant or around people in close proximity — make me nervous.  What are ideas for other part-time jobs that don’t involve being around people in a close environment?

Answer: There are many freelance jobs that allow you to work from your dorm room safely. Look for editing jobs, food delivery services, and even online tutoring as a few ways to make extra money without the added risk of exposure to the virus. Your campus’ Student Life Center may also have a few open opportunities throughout the campus.

Top 10 Questions to Ask Your College Before the School Year Begins

Before the school year begins, reach out to your college to get all of these and other questions answered for your safety before returning to campus. You may ask these questions now, but don’t hesitate to ask for updates later. As the school year goes on, these answers may change depending on the coronavirus spread and other contributing factors. 

Top 10 Questions

  1. Who do I alert if I believe I am sick or have symptoms of the coronavirus?
  2. Will face coverings or masks be required?
  3. What regulations and requirements will be enforced to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 on campus?
  4. How do I get tested on campus? Is there a place nearby?
  5. What happens if my roommate or I have to self-isolate?
  6. How will we practice social distancing in classrooms and other common areas of campus?
  7. How will my campus track the number of positive cases and tracing?
  8. How will students be notified about new Coronavirus cases and the spread?
  9. How will my college handle remote meetings, classes, office hours and tutoring? What virtual resources will be available?
  10. What activities will be available that meet social distancing guidelines? (Intramural sports, gyms, etc.)

Concerns about health and safety amid the coronavirus aren’t uncommon, and you’re not alone. Do what’s right for you to make sure you feel as safe and comfortable as possible at this time. And don’t be afraid to talk to your family, friends and therapists about any stress or anxiety that you may feel at this time. We hope this guide helps you navigate tough conversations and situations as we work together to slow the spread.

Home Security Writer

Dashia Starr

Dashia researches and writes on all things home automation and security. She focuses on the latest news, products, and providers to share only the best with you.

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