5 On Your Side

College during COVID: What experts say students need to know before back-to-school

Posted August 6, 2020 5:36 p.m. EDT
Updated August 8, 2020 6:48 a.m. EDT

— Parents, are your college students ready for their new COVID-era campus?

From appointments needed for move-in to mask requirements and limited seating, 5 On Your Side’s Monica Laliberte tells us the changes are everywhere.

The changes at N.C. State University resemble those at many other campuses right now, and students should know a few things as they head back.

“We have taken furniture out of the classroom and marked where we would like students to sit," said Doug Morton, Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities at N.C. State.

Emily Sickbert-Bennett, Director of Infection Prevention at UNC Hospitals, shared some college-specific pointers, starting with masks comfortable enough to wear a lot.

"Make sure they really understand how important the mask wearing is," said Sickbert-Bennett.

It’s also important to think about supply.

"Depending on what you anticipate your laundry frequency to be, [make sure] you have enough clean ones until your next laundry cycle," she said.

In addition to doing laundry, college students should also be ready to clean.

"Make sure your child knows how to clean their own bathroom and knows how to clean kitchen areas," said Sickbert-Bennett, especially areas "where you are going to be eating and drinking and brushing your teeth."

Finally, make sure kids know that some disinfectants need to sit on a surface a few minutes to work.

While it sounds basic at this point, the reality is that many students need to be reminded about the importance of constant hand washing, Sickbert-Bennett said. They also need to be reminded to keep their distance from others, something that will be difficult on college campuses.

"We’ve learned from time and time again, from contact tracing from outbreak investigations, these are all are traced back to at least one or more individuals who go to a party, who go to choir practice, or who go eat at a restaurant while they’re not feeling well," said Sickbert-Bennett.

With all the changes, university leaders believe college during COVID-19 can be a success.

"They’ll be safe, assuming that we all work together," said Tim Hogan, Director of Student Centers at N.C. State. "Wear your mask, wash your hands and keep an appropriate distance."

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