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Be Prepared: How to Pack a COVID Go Bag for College Students

Help your student be prepared for a possible quarantine with this COVID “go bag” as you get ready to send them back to college.

collage of items to send back to college with a student to help prepare for COVID

I don’t know about you, but sending our sons back to college this year feels really uncertain. Even more so than when our families dropped our oldest two off for their freshman years!

With the threat of Covid-19 hanging over our heads, we’re making some additional plans. We want to prepare in case they or one of their roommates tests positive and needs to quarantine.

AnnMarie’s freshman son will be living in a dorm. Anne’s son is a junior and is living in an off-campus apartment. So we’re each facing somewhat different scenarios.

How to Prepare for Quarantine for Your College Student

Every college and university will have a unique plan in place to address Covid-19 this fall. Some are planning to do randomized testing, others are only concerned about symptomatic students. Be sure to check your college or university website to confirm the plans they’re putting in place.

Families will need to decide what the best option is regarding sending their students back to campus. As more classes are being shifted to virtual learning, we know some students and families are opting to stay at home this semester. There’s no right or wrong answer since every family has different circumstances.

We’ve found that we tend to feel better about uncertain conditions when we plan ahead. We might not be able to control our students’ behavior. But we can at least make sure they have everything they need if they’re potentially exposed.

We wanted to share some simple ideas with you so you can prepare too.

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Boost Your Immunity

Okay. First off, we are not medical professionals. Please know we’re not attempting to give medical advice here! There is no supplement or dietary change that will prevent you or your student from contracting Covid-19. Social distancing and good hygiene are the most important things any of us can do.

However, let’s get real. If your student is anything like ours, vegetables and fruits don’t make up a big part of their diet at school. And late nights of studying often mean they’re getting less sleep. So we’re encouraging our sons to take some supplements that have been shown to help improve the immune response.

Please do your own research and talk with your family’s healthcare provider to decide which supplements, if any, would be best for your student.

Make a Plan for Your Family and Student

After checking out the plans at the school they’re attending, you’ll want to figure out your family’s response. There are a few possible scenarios for you to think through:

  • What if your student is exposed and has to quarantine while waiting for test results?
  • What are your plans if your student tests positive for Covid-19 while they’re away from home?
  • Will your student quarantine at school, or will they need to come home?
  • If they need to come home, what are your plans to keep them away from the rest of your family?
  • If your student quarantines at school, will they need to stay in their dorm room or apartment, or will they be moved to another space on campus?
  • How will your student get food if they’re quarantining at school?
  • If your student is living off-campus, is there a plan set up with their roommates if one of them is exposed and/or tests positive?
  • How will your student get home if they need to quarantine at home?
  • Do you have a medical power of attorney in place in case your student requires hospitalization?

Obviously, we all hope to end up not needing to follow any of these plans! But sometimes simply having a plan can go a long way in easing those mom worries. Right?

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Packing a COVID Go Bag

First, be sure to leave a duffel bag, suitcase, and/or large empty plastic tub in their room after dropping them off this year. That way they have somewhere to pack necessities if needed.

If your student needs to leave their dorm room or apartment to quarantine, having a bag of essentials already packed can make that move easier, faster, and less stressful. You may want to consider having a bag pre-packed with the following items that they can grab and go.

  • Toiletry items: toothbrush, toothpaste & floss, face wash & moisturizer, deodorant, contact lenses, contact solution, shampoo & conditioner, body wash or soap, brush, ponytail holders, lotion, feminine products, etc.
  • Over the counter medications: Tylenol, Cough Medicine, Vitamins
  • Blanket
  • Bath towel
  • Set of sheets
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Tissues
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Disinfecting spray
  • Laundry detergent pods (3-4) in a sealed bag
  • Dish detergent and sponge
  • Additional face masks
  • Printed phone list and emergency contact information

What to Pack and Bring to Quarantine

Whether your student is quarantining or recovering from Covid-19 somewhere on campus or at home, they’ll need to pack some additional daily use items from their room.

Here’s a list to help get everything else together. This list assumes you’ve already packed the items listed from above in a college student COVID “go bag.” If not pre-packed, be sure to take those items too.

The amount of clothing to bring depends on whether or not they’ll have access or the ability to do laundry during this time.

  • Undergarments: underwear, socks, bras
  • Clothing: Pajamas, T-Shirts, shorts, leggings or sweatpants, hoodies
  • Flip Flops, slides, slip-on shoes
  • Pillow
  • Prescriptions and other daily medications
  • Identification, Medical Card, Credit Card
  • Phone charging cord and plug
  • All schoolwork, books, supplies, planner, calculator, etc.
  • Computer and Charger
  • Power Strip
  • Thermometer
  • Pulse Oximeter

More Resources

One Last Tip

If your student is anything like ours, the one thing they’ll always have handy is their phone. Be sure to have them take a photo of both the front and back of their insurance card. Or get them a silicone pocket that attaches to their phone to hold their student ID, insurance card, and a credit card. Then either bookmark this post for them, or get our printable list by joining our Simply2Moms VIP group below.

Back to College During a Pandemic

Sending our students to college during a pandemic definitely adds a new layer of stress. Hopefully, they have learned safe social distancing practices over the past few months and will continue to follow those guidelines while they’re on their own.

Having contingency plans in place is one way to reduce that stress for all of us. Having a list of what to pack in case your student is quarantined makes it easier if they need to temporarily leave their living space. Knowing what your family will do if your student has to return home after being exposed removes some of the uncertainty we’re all facing.

Additional Resources:

You should also check out this list with additional items to pack for your college student during Covid from the blog Mom Behind the Curtain. She’s done some excellent research and includes some additional items you may find helpful!

How else are you preparing for your college student going to school? If you have any questions or suggestions, contact us or leave a comment! Follow us over on Instagram and Facebook to see everything we’re up to.

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