Staying safe during COVID-19 is no small task. Employers and schools have had to make major changes to protect their employees, students, and communities. Those challenges are hard enough, but what about colleges and universities that hundreds of thousands of students depend on? College students can’t just put their studies on hold until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed, but how are they being protected when they return to class? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to that question, but let’s discuss some of the most important aspects of safety at college in 2020.
COVID-19 Testing and Screening
Colleges should have COVID-19 testing options available to their students and staff. Some colleges are also utilizing other screening methods, such as temperature checks, before attending classes. If students are living on campus, they may be asked to get a COVID-19 antibody test before moving in. Antibody testing shows that you were previously exposed and have developed an “immunity” to COVID-19, although it’s unclear how long that immunity lasts.
All colleges should be prepared for last minute changes and have a backup plan for their students and staff to follow in the event of an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the area. Backup plans should include distance learning, closing on-campus housing, and smaller class sizes. If a college is not already requiring the use of masks on campus, they may need to in the future.
Increased Cleaning Efforts
The cleaning and sanitization efforts have been increased at college campuses across the US. High-touch surfaces and common areas need to be sanitized multiple times per day and lecture halls/classrooms should be cleaned between each group of students. The amount of sanitization will come at an added cost to the colleges, but it’s an essential part of protecting their students and staff members. Cleaning efforts should extend to on-campus housing, restaurants, and transportation.
Before returning to college, contact the school to get a detailed list of what they’re doing to stay safe during COVID-19. If you are considered a high-risk individual, utilizing distance learning may be the safest option for you. Remember to wash your hands, wear a mask, socially distance, and stay informed on COVID-19 cases at your college campus. If COVID-19 testing isn’t available on-campus, find an urgent care center near you and get tested whenever you feel the need!