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I am a college student heading back to campus. How can I make sure that my friends and I stay safe?

Families Reopening School Socializing Staying Safe

A: Preparation is key. Expect that someone you know may test positive for COVID-19. Know the steps to take to stay safe.
Here are a few tips (https://wapo.st/31O0jF8).

Step 1: Get your flu shot!

Policies will vary by campus, but rule of thumb is that you should plan to get your flu shot by mid-October (https://bit.ly/2YZ4EUq).

Step 2: Know where, when and how often to get tested.

Many Universities have policies on this. Some even test twice weekly (https://bit.ly/32NmYRl).

Step 3: Know your return to campus policy.

Questions to ask: do you need to self-isolate, isolate with roommates, or limit interactions for several weeks upon arrival? Follow your University’s protocol (which will likely depend upon the state’s protocol). For example, you may need to isolate for 2 weeks and test upon arrival (https://bit.ly/3bgoO0S).

Step 4: Know what to do if you test positive.

Prepare to self-isolate (stricter than quarantine) for at least 10 days and avoid sharing common supplies/spaces as well as avoid interacting with roommates. Have appropriate medical supplies available, make sure you have a support person or University contact to help with food/medicine/supplies, and talk to your roommates about symptom monitoring and/or need to quarantine (https://bit.ly/3gOPg2Q).

Step 5: Prepare to have the tough discussions about social contacts.

This pandemic has caused a major disruption in your college experience. Social activity is not banned, however, it is wise to use strategies to decrease your risk and others’ risk of infection. Make a pod (a group of friends who will exclusively see each other)-this helps to limit contacts and makes it easier to trace if someone gets sick.

Step 6: Avoid risky activities when you can.

Please don’t go to bars and clubs. If you eat out, eat outside. Limit time of interactions (keep them less than an hour). Don’t share food, utensils, cups, even at home (have separate materials for each roommate). Do not go to any large gatherings, regardless of whether indoor and outdoors. We are learning that it is not just large gatherings that contribute to outbreak, but the smaller, private gatherings too. So avoid anything outside of your pod if you can (https://bit.ly/2EXhgnA).

Step 7: Engage in lower risk activities.

Play online games or do social hours via phone. Exercise outside until it gets cold. Once colder, if you decide to go to the fitness center, stay physically distant from others (6 feet plus), wash hands frequently, sanitize any high use surfaces, carry water, and go straight in/out of the gym. And of course, wear a mask (https://nyti.ms/3gKamPW).
None of this is easy, but it can help keep you and your communities decrease the risk of getting COVID-19.

And while there is so much fear around college campuses reopening and the risks, we recognize that this is a critical part of your life and development. Minimizing risk is key in whatever situation and understanding the greater context is too. Many campuses will move to online instruction as cases rise and/or send students home if needed. The critical point will be to continue to monitor activities on college campuses from a non-biased lens and to closely follow emerging data (https://nyti.ms/32JTwvK). In the meantime, Stay Safe, Stay Sane, and Stay Prepared!
#College #backtoschool #COVID19 #collegelife

With Love,
The Nerdy Girls

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