COVID Safety Precautions for Students

According to the most recent data, more than 88,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported on college campuses, including 4,300 cases in Illinois. While many colleges hold distance learning courses, some continue to hold on-campus courses. Unfortunately, both situations create health risks for students and their families.

Despite indications that healthy young adults are less at risk than older, less healthy people, the dangers are real. Whether you live on campus or learn remotely, students should take precautions.

Health tips for students on campus

• Learn your school’s COVID rules. Virtually every college has extensive COVID protocols on their website. Know when you need to be tested, where to go for health care, and what to do if you test positive.

• Be prepared for quarantine. Make sure you have a constant supply of groceries and other essentials. Quarantines happen suddenly.

• Get a good thermometer. Monitor your temperature between your required COVID tests.

• Complete health care POA and HIPAA forms. Completing a health care power of attorney form ensures that your parents can make medical decisions on your behalf in the unlikely event that you become seriously ill. A HIPAA form gives them access to your health information. (Each state has its own forms; check the website for the state where you go to school.)

• Have an exit plan. Know where you’ll go — and how you’ll get there — if your dorm closes. Remember that returning home can create a health risk for your parents.


Health tips for remote students

Although the health risks are not the same, distant students and their families should also be careful.

• Take common sense precautions. You know the routine: wear a mask in public, practice social distancing, and practice good hygiene. If friends are visiting, meet them outside; do the same when you are the visitor. Avoid indoor gatherings and, yes, parties. The risk is simply too high to take risks.

• Beware of computer vision syndrome. Distance learning students of all ages report tired eyes, blurred vision, and headaches due to prolonged screen time. Give your eyes quick breaks every 20 minutes, try to blink frequently, and position the screen 4-5 inches below eye level and 20-28 inches away. You can also try blue light blocking glasses.

• Take care of your mental and physical health. Now is the time to exercise, eat healthy, and take care of yourself in general. Keep in mind: 62% of college students experience anxiety in ordinary circumstances, and those times are anything but ordinary. If you’re anxious or depressed, don’t hold it back or force it. See what mental health resources are available in your college, health plan, and community — and take advantage of them.

It’s not the college experience every student dreams of, but it’s our reality for now. While you continue your education, take steps to protect yourself and your friends and family. There will be better days to come.

• Teri Dreher is a Board Certified Patient Advocate. A critical care nurse for more than 30 years, she recently founded Seniors Alone Guardianship & Advocacy Services (, a non-profit organization that serves elderly orphans in the area. She is also the founder of NShore Patient Advocates,

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Susan W. Lloyd