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A social distancing guide for students

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If you’re a student living away from home what should you be doing to prevent the spread of coronavirus. And what should you do if you think you’ve come into contact with someone who has it?

As the virus spreads, more and more people are being advised to distance themselves physically from others, and to isolate themselves if they’ve been around someone who carries it. Yet if you’re a student living in a dorm with others, or a house, or an apartment this is easier said than done.

The trouble is, sometimes you have no choice but to share a bathroom with someone else, or a kitchen, or a bedroom. And as reasonable as staying in your room for two weeks may sound on paper, that piece of paper probably doesn’t realize just how impossible it is to live with your roommates after a few days of being cooped up with them. Or how close that dwindling supply of toilet paper can bring them to re-enacting the Hunger Games.

The good news though is that there are some basic rules of thumb to surviving coronavirus as a student with your health, your sanity, and your friendships left intact.

One: if you need to cough or sneeze, please don’t share it with everyone else! Rather, use a tissue or your sleeve just in case you expelled bodily fluids contain something that someone else would rather not have.

Two: wash your hands with soap as often as possible. And yes I know that it’s a pain and you’ve never seen the need to do this in the past, but trust me on this. And as for how long to wash the chorus of Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” is about right at 20 seconds … just sayin’.

Three: you really don’t need to wear a mask. But if you insist, remember that masks are better for stopping you infecting others, than preventing them from infecting you. And unless you’re wearing an approved respirator that’s being properly fit-tested, the chances are that it’s not going to protect you anyway. Sorry!

Four: If possible, keep a ready supply of hand sanitizer in your room, and use it before you touch anything when you get in. It’ll help keep the virus where it belongs, which is not where you live!

Five: practice avoiding skin contact with opening doors or pushing elevator buttons when outside your room. This is where a sleeve, or any other piece of fabric, is your best friend.

Six: it’s okay to order food online if you’re self-isolating or in quarantine. If you can though, buzz the person delivering the food up and ask them to leave it outside your door. Or if you’re in a dorm, ask a friend to pick it up from the delivery person and leave it by your door.

Seven: regularly disinfect surfaces that may have become contaminated. But make sure you use EPA-approved wipes and sprays that are good for tackling coronavirus. Clorox wipes are a pretty safe bet here.

And eight: if you think you have COVID-19 — which is the disease that’s associated with novel coronavirus — or you might have been exposed, and you’re not feeling so good, to get yourself checked out. But *please* call ahead before your visit to your healthcare provider, so you’re not hanging around and potentially infecting others.

And only think about going to the emergency room if you’re really sick with a fever, cough, and trouble breathing, otherwise you could be making it harder for people who are worse off than you to get treated.

Thankfully, even if you’re infected by the coronavirus, the chances are that if you’re healthy you’ll get over it and be fine. But some people won’t. And the faster it spreads, the harder it’ll become to protect people who need the most help. But by following these rules of thumb, you can reduce the chances of yourself and others around you becoming infected and, importantly, you can help slow its spread. These are just rules of thumb though.

And as always stay safe.

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