Stay Safe While Attending College During the Pandemic

This year, college students are heading back to class at an uncertain time. Some colleges and universities are planning for online courses, while others will return to campus life.

“Parents may be wondering how they can prepare their students for an outbreak on campus—or even the possibility of getting COVID-19,” said Dhuha Raab, DO, of Memorial Physician Services – Jacksonville. “If you’re sending your student back to an apartment or dorm, there are a few useful items you should plan to pack in case they need to quarantine or isolate.”

Here are some useful supplies you should consider including:

Disposable masks.

Washable cloth masks are also a good option, but if your student isn’t planning to do laundry frequently, consider sending a supply of disposable masks instead.

Hand sanitizer.

Proper hand hygiene is key to preventing COVID-19. Small bottles of hand sanitizer can be stored in a pocket or purse for situations where soap and water aren’t available.

Cleaning supplies.

It’s important to sanitize high-touch surfaces, like door knobs, frequently to prevent the spread of the virus. Consider sanitizing wipes or sprays, as well as paper towels.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol), over-the-counter cold remedies and cough drops.

“The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to a cold or flu,” said Dr. Raab. “Use acetaminophen to treat body aches and headaches. Cold remedies can help with congestion and cough.”


Fever is a very common symptom of COVID-19. A digital thermometer is an easy way to check a temperature.

Bottled water.

As with any illness, it’s very important to stay hydrated. Stock up on bottled water, plus supplies to make herbal tea or another comforting hot beverage, if desired.

Easy-to-prepare foods.

Make sure to send some nutritious, shelf-stable foods, like microwavable soups, trail mix, crackers or canned goods.


Send a box or two of tissues—they’ll be useful for a range of illnesses, including COVID-19.

Ample supply of prescription medications.

If your student uses prescription medications, make sure they bring an ample supply—particularly if their medication is usually refilled at a hometown pharmacy instead of on campus.

Everyday supplies. 

“In ordinary circumstances, a college student might not be too worried about running low on something like shampoo,” said Dr. Raab “But in isolation or quarantine, it becomes difficult to get needed supplies. Consider sending extra.”

Although no one likes to think about the possibility of getting sick, it’s important to be prepared.

“Each college and university has a different plan for outbreaks of COVID-19,” said Dr. Raab. “Check their websites to learn how campus health officials will respond if a student tests positive or becomes ill. It’s best to know before the situation arises.”

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