Right about now, you may be gearing up to return to college classes for the fall semester. However, this semester is shaping up to be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.
Due to COVID-19, your college experience will likely be drastically different. To get the most out of your education, it’s important to understand what your campus and classes will be like.
Before you grab that book bag, check out our tips for returning to classes in the fall.
Whatever fall experience you are preparing for, be ready for it to change.
Many universities have already shifted plans from in-person classes to online-only for the fall. If your university is holding in-person classes, they may decide to shift some or all of your material online, even mid-semester. They may also offer large lectures online only so that they can use the large lecture halls for social distancing.
Find out where information about classes and any other important information will be posted. It could be on your college’s homepage, a particular webpage, or their social media accounts.
Be sure your contact information is up-to-date. Colleges could send updates to a college email address, so check that at least once a day.
Prepare for Class Changes
One potential upside of classes in the fall is that the class size may be smaller. In order to facilitate social distancing, some institutions are reducing class sizes. This could be good news because you are likely to learn more with a lower student-to-teacher ratio.
Your college may shift some or even most of its classes to a hybrid model for the fall. This means that you would complete some of your work in class and some of it at home. Such a model may allow professors to alternate student attendance to foster social distancing. For example, in a class that meets two days a week, half the students may show up for one day and the other half the next day. On their “off” days, students would complete their classwork from home instead of coming in. Hybrid can be a very rewarding model. However, if you’ve never taken classes online, you may need to mentally prepare yourself.
Besides mentally preparing, you also need to physically prepare if you’re taking online classes. You’ll need at-home access to a computer and the internet, for example. If you already have internet access, make sure it is fast enough to handle videoconferencing (i.e., at least 1.5 mbps).
Mask: With any luck, you already have a mask (or two) to stay safe from COVID-19. If not, be sure to grab one because masks may be mandatory for your classes. And know how to use your mask correctly.
Hand Sanitizer: Bring a brand that contains at least 70 percent alcohol.
Disinfecting Wipes: Use a disinfecting wipe for whatever you’re touching throughout the day – your laptop, pens, books, phone, and so on. Double check that the wipe is safe for your device.
Gloves: Wear gloves to avoid touching surfaces that may harbor the infection. If you don’t have gloves, bring paper towels or tissues that you can use to touch door knobs and handrails and then throw away.
If you live in a dorm, then getting to class will be the same as ever. If you commute, though, you may want to leave a bit earlier each day.
This is because institutions may be checking temperatures before anyone can enter the campus. While this is a safe option, it can potentially cause long lines of people waiting to be tested.
This is the most important category of all! The CDC makes the following recommendations for protecting yourself from COVID-19 and preventing the spread. Also visit the CDC page on Coronavirus to learn how to protect yourself, what to do if you’re sick, symptoms, and more. Contact your healthcare provider for questions or more information.
The below recommendations are from the CDC website:
Stay home if you are sick or have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19. Here are the CDC recommendations on what to do if you are sick.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. It’s especially important to wash:
- Before eating or preparing food
- Before touching your face
- After using the restroom
- After leaving a public place
- After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
- After handling your mask
- After changing a diaper
- After caring for someone sick
- After touching animals or pets
If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 70% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks. If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. Then, use a household disinfectant. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work.
Monitor your health daily. Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.Especially important if you are running essential errands, going into the office or workplace, and in settings where it may be difficult to keep a physical distance of 6 feet.
Take your temperature if symptoms develop. Don’t take your temperature within 30 minutes of exercising or after taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen.
Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.