After a surge in early winter, COVID-19 cases have begun to decline. Seasonal factors, an increase in mask wearing and social distancing, partial immunity, and the vaccine rollout have combined to stem the tide — at least for now. With more variants popping up, however, nothing is certain.
Despite ongoing uncertainty, more colleges and universities are reopening, or preparing to reopen. What does that mean for you as a college student? How can you return to campus with confidence? Here are some ideas on getting back to class without regrets.
Don’t let up on healthy habits
Even with vaccines becoming available and new case numbers dropping, the Center for Disease Control says it’s essential to stay vigilant. Keep taking the standard precautions:
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
- Use hand sanitizer.
- Disinfect shared surfaces — like desks, countertops, appliance knobs, light switches, etc. — with antibacterial wipes.
- Wear face masks. Double-masking is even more effective.
- Maintain social distance of at least six feet between yourself and others. In classrooms, this may mean keeping an empty desk between yourself and your nearest classmate.
Be aware of the externals
As you return to the classroom, be aware of external risk factors that can affect your safety.
- Time — How much time are you spending around people? The less, the better.
- Space — The more space you can keep between yourself and others, the safer you’ll be.
- People — Large numbers of people in small spaces increase the risk of transmission.
- Place — Outdoors is best. But if your classes are indoors (as most are), classrooms should have adequate ventilation and room for social distancing.
Take precautions on the road
With more people returning to school and work, more vehicles will be on the road. Be aware of how this affects you as you return to school.
- Stay vigilant. People who haven’t been driving might take a while to get their skills back up to speed.
- Leave enough time for your commute. Don’t put yourself in a position of rushing to get to class.
- Check the weather and drive cautiously. This winter has produced some of the craziest weather in memory, resulting in icy roads and lots of wrecks.
- Know what to do in case you’re in an accident.
- Be sure you have the proper auto and injury insurance.
Take charge of your finances
- Set a budget that allows you to remain free of financial worry as you focus on your classes.
- Begin building your credit. Consider a card that’s secured by an account deposit so you don’t charge more than you can afford.
- Cut back where you can. If you get a job just so you can afford a video game system, you’ll have less time to focus on your studies: You’ll either be at work or playing.
Don’t be afraid to request safety measures
- Ask your instructor to be sure your classroom is properly ventilated.
- If you’re uncomfortable in class, see whether lectures will be available online.
- Request that personal protective equipment (PPE) be available in class. Bring your own anyway, just in case.
- Most schools have long since pivoted to turning in assignments online. Make sure it’s an option for you.
Resuming classes is stressful enough without the added anxiety of dealing with health risks. Fortunately, if you take these precautions, you’ll be more likely to return to campus with confidence that you’ll be safe. Then you can focus on your studies, rather than worrying about things that can get in the way.
BIO: My name is Jessica Larson. I’m a married Midwestern mom and a solopreneur. I create online courses for students, and I’ve started and run several other businesses through the years. My goals are to support my family while still actually spending time with them, to act as an entrepreneurial role model for my two daughters, and to share what I’ve learned through The Solopreneur Journal.