College students across the country are preparing to return to campus, and this year's back-to-school shopping is a bit different from what we've come to expect. Thanks to online classes and stay-at-home orders, instead of buying a new pair of jeans or extra snacks, we're looking for comfy sweatpants and extra masks.
Maybe you've already got your two go-to masks, but did you know that you're better off ironing them dry than throwing them in the dryer? From ironing your masks to tracking your apartment's guests, there are a lot of precautions we'd be smart to take while we're at college.
No matter what your plans are for the fall, you're going to need a few more essentials to help you navigate living on-campus during a pandemic. Here's everything you need for your Covid-conscious fall semester shopping list:
A whiteboard to track who's visiting your apartment.8.5" x 11" Contempo Magnetic Dry Erase Board White - U-Brands
One major tool in the fight to contain COVID-19 is contact tracing, a strategy public health officials employ to follow the virus as it spreads. If someone you've been in close contact with tests positive for coronavirus, you're likely to receive an alert that you should seek testing too; however, this only works if the positive case knows their contacts.
This means that if you're regularly interacting with peers, you should keep a list of friends you've seen in the last week. Uphold your social responsibility by keeping a whiteboard that lists who's entered your apartment recently.
Small slider bags to hold your used masks each day.
Slider Quart Storage Bags - 50ct - Up&Up™
The NY Health Department recommends that you change your mask whenever it becomes moist or every 8 hours. If you're on campus from 9-7, it's prudent to switch to a clean mask mid-day. Keep your used mask separate from anything in your backpack using a plastic bag.
An ironing board (and an iron) to keep your reusable masks sterile.Tabletop Ironing Board - Room Essentials™
Experts suggest ironing your cloth masks after washing because the high heat helps to guarantee that you've effectively sanitized the fabric.
Hooks to hold your go-to masks by the door.9" Key Rack with 4 Hooks - White/Satin Nickel - Threshold™
These minimalist hooks will remind you not to leave the house without your most important accessory! Command hooks can work, too.
Any school supplies you'd normally rely on your school to provide, like a stapler or printer.Canon PIXMA Wireless Inkjet All-In-One Printer - White (TS6320)
Luckily, this printer is on sale right now, cause these are expensive. But I promise, being able to avoid a trip to the library and print straight from your bedroom will make this purchase absolutely worth it.
A personal thermometer and plenty of single-use covers.Digital Rigid Thermometer - Up&Up™
Honestly, before this, I didn't really care if I got sick. I'd take a day or two off, sure, but visit UHS or see a doctor? Nope.
Now, though, getting sick is another story. I'm adding a thermometer to my medicine box so that if I start feeling under the weather, I can quickly and regularly monitor my temperature and track any COVID-19 symptoms.
A plastic storage bin to keep your clean masks from being exposed to germs before wearing.Sterilite 6qt Clear Storage Box White Lid
Storing your masks in a sealed container can help you keep your peace of mind when it comes to their cleanliness. Yeah, I trust my roommates and friends, but I still don't want any accidental coughs hitting my masks if I hang them by the door.
Plus, you can spray paint the lid to make it match your room's ~aesthetic~.
Acetaminophen and cough medicine, if you don't already have a well-stocked medicine box.Tylenol Extra Strength Pain Reliever and Fever Reducer Caplets - Acetaminophen
Of course, we're all going to take every precaution to avoid contracting COVID-19 on campus. However, it's important to prepare to take care of yourself or a roommate just in case. To deal with the symptoms of COVID-19 – fever, headaches, and muscle aches – experts recommend acetaminophen.
Equipment to exercise from home, because visiting the gym just isn't worth it.Gaiam Printed Yoga Mats (4mm)
Don't get me wrong: I miss working out at my Y. Since quarantine started, though, I've fallen in love with Chloe Ting's at-home workout programs. For the low price of a yoga mat, you can get some amazing benefits: effective results; the freedom to do bodyweight exercises, pilates, or yoga; and the relief of not having strangers see you mid-set.
If your university has an isolation zone on campus, prepare a "go-bag" of anything you might need if you end up quarantined away from home.Rockland 19" Duffel Bag
At Penn State, we've been told that if one of your contacts tests positive, and a contact tracer hits your line, you'll probably be sent to quarantine in on-campus apartments at Eastview Terrace. Getting asked to quarantine as a precaution could turn your week upside down; it's best to be prepared.
Pack a gym bag with a few days of clothes, toiletries, a book, your favorite snacks, and anything that comforts you. Of course, you'll want to bring daily essentials like your laptop, classwork, and chargers, but having half your bag already waiting in the back of your closet will be a weight off your back if the time to isolate comes around.
Masks, masks, and more masks.2ct Adult Fabric Face Mask
Who has time to wash their used masks every single day? Keep enough handy so you won't have to worry about last-minute laundry loads, because laundry day is Sunday, and not even a pandemic is gonna change that.