Tips for Establishing COVID Rules with Your Roommates

Hearing that fall semester was transitioning to online learning was difficult to process for most college students this summer. The college experience holds a different meaning for every student. Whether it’s an escape from your hometown monotony, a return to a community of people who understand you, or a place to freely explore your passions, college at its core is a monumental mold for a young adult's life. The news of online school and COVID-19 regulations have challenged what it means to be a college student.

As important as curriculum is, it is not the sole purpose of college, which is why thousands of students across the country have returned to their college towns this fall to salvage what parts of the “college experience” they can. I am in the demographic that is privileged enough to be able to move back to my beautiful college town of Berkeley. Still, life hasn't gone back to normal. We can't escape the fact that we are living through a pandemic. 

Woman in front of laptop with mask on

I’m living with six other girls, all with varying degrees of concern about the pandemic. Discovering how to navigate this chapter of life was something we never expected when thinking of moving into our first apartment. Now, on top of normal roommate agreements, we have to make COVID agreements. Through trial and error, these are the rules our apartment has established in order to create as safe of an environment as possible, while also considering the importance of social interaction for our mental health. 

#1: Masks on in public and when seeing friends 

We all know the importance of wearing a mask in public. Mask-wearing is mandated in most places, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

#2: Bi-weekly testing 

If you’ve returned to your college town, your university most likely provides testing resources. Since there is the chance we could be asymptomatic and unknowingly spread the virus, regular testing can help us detect the virus and stop the spread.

medical worker takes a swab test

#3: Wash hands and take off shoes when entering the apartment 

In an effort to prevent the germs we touch and step on from entering our apartment, we want to be as careful as possible and take proper precautions in order to stay safe. 

#4: Small social bubble 

We have made it a point to keep our social circles small and only meet up with friends who are regularly tested and have been taking similar precautions. This means replacing concerts and parties with picnics and paint nights. 

assorted-color bottles on white surface with paint scribbles

#5: Communication 

The last and most important tip for every household is to communicate. Whether it's asking if a friend can come over or telling the household if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, an open dialogue will help everyone feel more comfortable and safe.