Managing Pandemic Health Risks on College Campuses

Managing Pandemic Health Risks on College Campuses

Eating on the RunCampus dining halls will continue to offer meals, but dine-in options will be limited and may require reservations. The alternative will be takeout meals consumed in designated eating areas or in your room.Because of capacity limits and a screening process for entry, getting food may require more time. Students should have some shelf-stable snacks and meals that can be prepared with minimal equipment in their rooms, such as instant oatmeal, canned soup, dried fruit, peanut butter and crackers. A refrigerator and microwave will help. Since access to a full-service grocery store may be limited, consider options to restock, including delivery services and convenience stores.ClassroomsWith large, introductory classes being fully remote on most campuses, in-person learning will likely be limited to small groups and activities that cannot be done remotely such as science labs, studio work and performance programs. Explore opportunities to get extra help for classwork via office hours, review sessions and tutoring resources, all of which may be done virtually. Successful remote learning means having the right technology and ensuring stable access to broadband. Many schools have laptop programs and other ways to support students who do not have reliable equipment.Staying HealthyInvestigate the local health resources and have a plan for what to do if you develop symptoms suggestive of Covid-19. Larger institutions are more likely to have a full-service health center on campus, while smaller schools might have longstanding relationships with health care providers in the community.With more than 6,600 cases of coronavirus already linked to colleges by the end of July, many campus health centers have gained considerable experience managing infections and are well positioned to provide compassionate, student-focused care for mild to moderate illness. The medical staff can facilitate transfers to emergency departments if needed. Most colleges have designated living space for students who become ill or require quarantine after close exposure to someone with Covid-19. If home is within a few hours and students can safely travel by car, this may be a good option.While student health fees often cover routine services, this is not the same as health insurance. Be sure to review policies about out-of-network coverage for your health insurance plan. Depending on restrictions, it may be prudent to purchase insurance plans offered by the school. Depending on the state, low-income students may qualify for Medicaid coverage.Covid-19 health kits should include a functional thermometer and basic, over-the-counter medications (such as acetaminophen, cough drops, cough suppressants). Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes can help keep the living space clean. Fingertip pulse oximeters, which are growing in popularity, can be used to measure blood oxygen levels should symptoms of Covid-19 develop. This type of monitoring can be an early warning sign, before a patient has difficulty breathing, that urgent medical evaluation is needed.

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