If you’ve decided to send your kid off to college this fall, the risks of the coronavirus Covid pandemic may mean that there are some extra items that you want to add to your kid’s college packing list. I’ve put together a list of items I’m sending with my girls.
I’ve written a lot about preparing for college, college admissions, college majors,and other education issues. For years, I’ve meant to publish my very comprehensive college packing list, that I’ve fine-tuned after preparing three kids for college. But this year, with the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic, brings special considerations for packing for college.
I’ve debated writing a post about what kids might need at college during the coronavirus pandemic, because I’m not a medical professional. The choice of whether or not your student should or should not go back to the campus, is a personal decision made in light of your school or university’s or college’s decisions. Everyone should make their own decisions based on their child’s medical condition, with input from their doctor or medical professional. But I do have a PhD in biology, and I’m pretty thorough about planning out things ahead of time, so I hope I can be a resource to help you plan.
In addition, my graduate research involved doing sterile work. So let me be the first to admit that there is no way to make your child’s environment completely sterile! (Nor you would want to.) Nothing will keep you completely safe. This is all about minimizing risk. Just like we wear seat belts in a car – it won’t guarantee your safety, but it does improve it. And given my background, and my obsessive personality that always likes to be prepared.
I have thought about this quite a bit! In fact, even when I try to learn about investing, I can’t get away from the Coronavirus. I’ve been reading the book, Antifragile, by Nassim Taleb. An interview with him about the pandemic just came out a few days ago.
Bill Gates, and his foundation with his wife Melinda Gates, have been studying pandemics for several years. He views are worth keeping up with.
There are no clear answers. But I’m trying to prepare my college kids the best I can. My hope is that my obsessive thought can be of use to others. I hope this list will make it easier for you to come up with your own list.
College list for Coronavirus Covid-19
Here are the things I am sending with my girls to college.
1. An air purifier with UVC light
There is some evidence that UVC light kills viruses. I’ll sum up why I decided to get air filters for my daughters by simply saying an air purifier with UVC couldn’t hurt. It’s likely not to be perfect, but anything that can decrease a viral concentration seems logically to be helpful. (I even have some untested theories about how the old-fashioned advice for sick people get fresh air makes scientific sense.)
The decision to buy air filters with UVC was easier for us because I just so happened to purchase a Germ Guardian air purifier for my son a year or two ago, to see if it would help with his allergies. It does! Then when he lived in a particularly smelly apartment, the Germ Guardian reduced odors for him as well. When I realized that the Germ Guardian also has a UVC light in it, it became a no-brainer for us. I can now say that the Germ Guardian has improved allergies for two of us. And my sister-in-law reports the Germ Guardian’s carbon filter helped with the smell of new furniture that they’ve had delivered recently. So if nothing else, there are those two things the Germ Guardian can do – help with allergies and reduce odors.
I’ve ordered Germ Guardian’s for both of my daughter’s rooms, as well as common areas in their apartment. The unit I have purchased is the Germ Guardian Air Purifier with HEPA Filter and UVC, 085-00-0610, AC4825E. If you don’t like the noise, the lowest setting really is whisper quiet. I turn it lower during the day and higher at night. They also have other models.
2. Digital Thermometer
I am sending my girls with two kinds. I really think the oral instant read thermometers are the most accurate. (Although in my experience you always have to take at least two readings to ensure accuracy, and be careful that you haven’t just eaten or drunk anything for 15-30 minutes.)
I also purchased them instant read thermometers in case they are in a hurry to get to class. Trying to look at the reviews and consider accuracy, I decided on the instant read ear thermometers, and I got this one at Target, Braun ThermoScan Ear Thermometer with ExacTemp Technology. You can also find the Braun ThermoScan Ear Thermometer with ExacTemp Technology on Amazon.
Another good choice would be a temporal artery thermometer. My last choice would be a touch-less forehead thermometer. They just seem to be more finicky.
3. Pulse Oximeter
While reading the Amazon reviews for pulse oximeters, I saw a great tip. Beware of price increases, but also look for oximeters that have good, old reviews. I purchased both the Zacurate Pro Series 500DL Fingertip Pulse Oximeter Blood Oxygen Saturation Monitor with Silicon Cover, Batteries and Lanyard (Royal Black) and the Pulse Oximeter Fingertip, Blood Oxygen Saturation Monitor for Pulse Rate and SpO2 Level, Suitable for Home, Exercise and Travel Use, Include Lanyard by Lovia , and they both seem to work well. However, I slightly prefer the display on the Lovia oximeter.
4. Copper Infused Gloves
There is evidence that copper (and silver) can reduce the life-span of viruses. This is another purchase I made that also comes under the heading of “it couldn’t hurt.” If it’s cold, you will need gloves anyway. Touch screen compatible is a modern necessity, and if you can get that with possible germicide effects, then why not? Not all copper-infused gloves are touch screen compatible, but I found GliderGloves Copper Infused Touch Screen Gloves, and tested them, and they are! The entire gloves are touch screen compatible. They are not super-soft, but they are fine. (And I have very sensitive skin.)
There is lots of good information (and some bad information, as well) out there about what types of vitamin supplements might be important in fighting off a coronavirus infection. Because I’m not a medical professional, I hate to try to give any advice on what you and your child should and shouldn’t take. I will say that I am sending some supplements to school with my girls. (I know that some of these studies can be much more difficult to read when you don’t have a science background. So, if you’re really looking for some help with this, let me know and I’ll consider writing a post with resources.)
That said, I’m also sending my girls to school with a multivitamin to take every day. I chose Women’s One a Day Vitamin Gummies. I based this choice on several considerations. First, I was thinking about compliance. (I’ve resisted buying gummy vitamins for years because of the cost. Long enough that my girls were genuinely excited when I told them I would get them this time!) I also looked for a vitamin that included some key vitamins I saw during my reading about Covid. Lastly, it’s the brand that I decided to take last time I stood on the vitamin aisles and read multi-vitamin nutrition labels for an hour (which was several years ago.) A different multivitamin might work better for you. (Especially if you’re buying for you son!)
6. Your family’s regular cold and flu supplies
Because it can be difficult to remember what you just have always had on hand, I’ll add itemized items.
7. Fever reducing medication
Remind your child that fever-free means fever-free WHILE NOT ON A FEVER REDUCING MEDICATION. You might also give your child the guidelines you followed about whether or not to give them a fever reducer when they were children.
8. Cold, Cough, & Flu medication
Remember to caution your young adults that these are multi-drug medications, and they should read labels to make sure they don’t double up on medications. For example, it would be easy to accidentally double up on a fever reducer. They are included in most cold and flu medications.
9. Cough drops
A bonus here, if you feel like wearing a mask tends to close off your air passages, a cough drop with menthol action might help. I found that I like to suck on a peppermint when I am wearing a mask. (Why do I feel like a need to add some sort of disclaimer to a hard candy recommendation?)
10. Tissues with Lotion,
Such as Puffs Plus Lotion, in case it’s been awhile since you had a cold, these make an unbelievable difference.
11. Disposable gloves
You never know when your child might have to help take care of a roommate who becomes sick.
12. Extra-trash bags
For the same reason. If someone in their room is sick, they’ll want to dispose of trash carefully and frequently.
13. Hand Sanitizer
This can be hard to find. Be sure to check the list of FDA updates on hand sanitizers for warnings about hand sanitizers that have been found to be dangerous.
14. Anti-bacterial wipes and/or alcohol wipes
For disinfecting high-touch surfaces and their mobile phone.
15. Face masks
There are lots of facemasks and lots of things that matter when it comes to fit. I am opting to send my girls with lots of masks – at least a dozen, so that they can change their mask frequently for both cleanliness and comfort. To start with, I ordered five different styles, with different filtering capabilities and different materials. Different brands fit different family members.
16. Nose bridge metal strips
When it came to masks that don’t have a metal nose piece, we found that sunglasses or other glasses can improve the fit against the face. But I also purchased some adhesive nose pieces to try to improve the fit of different masks that my girls find more comfortable. I’ll update this post when I have a chance to try them.
Sending your kids off to college
This is our third kid to send off to college. I wish I could tell you it gets easier with time. It does get easier with time to adjust to your kids being gone. But sending each child off doesn’t get any easier. Sending our third kid to start college during the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic certainly doesn’t help! But any protection we, as parents, were able to give our children was always incomplete. All we can do, is do the best we can to send them off prepared! I hope this list helps you prepare to send your kid to college during the on-going pandemic. I will be marking the calendar to Thanksgiving!
Resources to get you started on your own college packing list
More college planning resources for viral illnesses and Covid
COVID Go Bag for College Students | Be Prepared – an excellent post on Simply 2 Moms blog about being prepared with an action plan if your child gets sick at college this fall during the Covid Coronavirus pandemic