Updated: Tips for Returning to College During COVID-19

Posted Wednesday, Aug 17, 2022

It's now August 2022 and students are beginning to start or return to college. Although COVID-19 hasn’t gone away, some rules and regulations have changed since we last shared tips for returning to college. Rules will be different at every institution of higher learning. Likely, current COVID-19 rules will now be based on COVID-19 Community Levels (low, medium, or high). This tool is based on the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is in place to assist communities in deciding what prevention steps to take.

Below are some tips for reducing exposure if you are returning to campus. There are also tips for working with disability services to get accommodations as an adult with congenital heart disease (ACHD). Check with your college or university for confirmation and recommendations. It is important to know what your school of higher learning requires of students returning to campus. Are your classes in person or remote? If in person, do you have to take a COVID-19 test or wear a mask?

General Campus Tips During COVID-19:

  1. The CDC still recommends that everyone stays up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters.
  2. Masks may be required by your college or university. Even if they are not, you can wear one at any time. You should wear a mask if have symptoms, test positive, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. It is important to wear a high-quality mask that covers your nose, mouth, and chin.
  3. When you go out, you should take a mask, disinfectant wipes, tissues, and hand sanitizer with you. Hand sanitizer should contain at least 60% alcohol, which can be found on the label.
  4. If you are not fully vaccinated and are at higher risk for serious illness, it is recommended that you also maintain social (physical) distancing of at least six feet.
  5. You should wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before and after touching any object and/or putting on and removing your mask. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
  6. Cover coughs or sneezes with tissues or use the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in a garbage can. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitizer afterward.

Living Arrangements During COVID-19:
Know the university or college’s requirements for moving into campus housing. Do you need to be fully vaccinated? Do you need a negative COVID-19 test?

  1. If you are at high risk for developing serious illness with COVID-19, if possible, ask for a single dorm room. If you live in an apartment, request a single bedroom.
  2. Consider using a personal tote to keep all your personal belongings separate. Avoid sharing with dormmates or roommates. If you have to share, disinfect all surfaces, including doorknobs, light switches, drawers, and utility handles before and after using.
  3. Disinfect bathroom counter, sink, faucets, and toilet handles before use.
  4. Keep your toothbrush upright and in a separate container from others if using a shared bathroom.
  5. When using a laundry room, clean and disinfect tops, front and buttons, and other items that may have been touched on the washer and dryer.
  6. Know what to do if you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, develop symptoms, or have a positive COVID-19 test.

Dining During COVID-19:

  1. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or use alcohol-based sanitizer before and after eating.
  2. Do not share food, drink, or utensils.
  3. Eat grab and go (prepared) food items when you can.
  4. Eat outside when possible. If using shared tables and chairs, disinfect before eating.
  5. If you eat in a dining hall, disinfect tables and chairs before using them.
  6. When eating, maintain at least six feet between you and the person sitting next to or across from you.
  7. Wash hands before and after touching public surfaces with soap and water for 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Attending Classes During COVID-19:

  1. If you are at high risk for serious illness if you get COVID-19:
    • See if you can take online or remote classes.
    • If your classes are meeting in person, sign up for small sections.
    • Wipe down your classroom desk when taking in-person classes.
    • Keep at least 1-2 seats between you and another classmate.
    • Always wear a high-quality mask in class, covering your mouth, nose, and chin.

If you are exposed to COVID-19:

  1. Know the symptoms and signs of COVID-19.
  2. If you have been exposed to COVID-19 and are not up to date on your vaccines:
    • You do not have to quarantine.
    • Instead of quarantining, when you are around other people, wear a high-quality mask for five days.
    • Get tested five days after you had close contact with someone with COVID-19.
    • Watch for symptoms for 10 days after exposure.
    • If you develop symptoms, isolate immediately and get tested. *See below for details.
    • Do not travel for 10 days after exposure.
  3. If you have been exposed and are up to date on vaccines.
    • You do not have to quarantine.
    • Wear a high-quality mask if you must be around others.
    • Get tested five days after you had close contact with someone with COVID-19.
    • Watch for symptoms for 10 days after exposure.
    • If you develop symptoms, isolate immediately and get tested. *See below for details.
  4. If you were exposed to COVID-19 but had a confirmed COVID-19 case within the past 90 days:
    • You do not need to quarantine unless you get symptoms.
    • Wear a high-quality mask if you must be around others.
    • Watch for symptoms for 10 days after exposure.
      • If you develop symptoms, isolate immediately and get tested.
        • If your test is negative, you can stop isolating.
        • If you test positive, *see below for full isolation recommendations.
  5. Regardless of your vaccination status, if you test positive:
    • Isolate immediately.
    • Stay home for five days.
    • Wear a high-quality mask if you have to be around others in your house or in public.
    • After five days if you have been free from fever for 24 hours without using medicine and your symptoms are better (or you never had symptoms), you can stop isolation.
    • You should still stay away from people who are more likely to get sick from COVID-19 for at least 11 days and wear a high-quality mask through the 10th day.
    • Don’t travel for 10 days.
  6. If your symptoms get worse after you end isolation:
    • Start isolating again at day 0.
    • Check with your healthcare provider if you have questions or are unsure when you can stop isolation again.

*What is Isolation?
Isolation: Separating people who have confirmed or suspected COVID-19 from those without it. Need to stay home until safe to be around others.

For more information on isolation and when you can stop isolating, read these recommendations.

Tips for Applying for Disability Services for Students with Congenital Heart Disease:
Every institution of higher learning by law has to offer disability services to their students. The office of disability services can help you with things like getting more time for tests or getting a single dorm room. If your dorm doesn’t have elevators, they can help you get a room on a lower floor. During COVID-19, they might be able to help you get an accommodation for online or recorded classes if your school has reopened to in-person classes.

  1. Each student should make a list of accommodations he/she will need for either in-person and/or online classes and discuss them with the disability office. If you are a returning student, you may need different accommodations than you had in an actual classroom before COVID-19.
  2. If you are a new student (freshman or upperclassman), you should make an appointment as soon as possible to apply for disability services. It’s important to maintain open communication with both disability services and your professors so they can work with you.
  3. Each student's eligibility for accommodations, whether in the classroom on in online classes, is determined based on each individual student’s disability and the class they are taking.
  4. You should check your college’s website or call them to find out their process for requesting accommodations as early as you can.
  5. Stay up to date with information from the CDC, your state and local public health departments, and your institute of higher learning as the recommendations may change.

Contact Congress Today

Demand better research, surveillance, and awareness of ACHD by calling on Congress to act now on the Congenital Heart Futures Reauthorization Act of 2024. Contact your elected officials today.