Virtua Physician Offers Advice to College Students During COVID-19 Crisis
As the United States battles continued cases of COVID-19, alarming images of young people gathered at crowded bars and parties have raised the ire of elected officials and the medical community. In fact, many attribute the “summer surge” of the virus to events like these where social distancing and masks are non-existent.
Although some college students will surely perpetuate the stereotype of irresponsible behavior, others are eager to do their part to contain COVID-19 and have anxiety about the risks associated with attending classes and communal living.
In homes across the country, students and their parents wrestle with the same questions: Can schools keep COVID-19 out of densely packed dorms and apartments? Will colleges and universities become the next virus hotspots? And, most of all, is it safe to attend school?
Virtua internal medicine physician Christopher Pomrink, DO – a COVID-19 survivor and father of a Temple University student – offers advice to worried college students heading to campuses in the fall.
“College students need to be aware of their environment and the situations they are placing themselves in,” said Dr. Pomrink. “Unfortunately, there will be students who disregard public health recommendations. Students who are anxious about COVID-19 during this pandemic must avoid situations like parties and large gatherings. They must be aware of the risks to themselves, their classmates, and their families.”
Dr. Pomrink believes that it is feasible to keep students safe at college.
“It will just take a lot of effort and adherence to public health,” he said. He advises students to research and understand their university’s COVID-19 policies before they return to campus.
SAFETY GUIDELINES FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS:
- Be aware of the virus data in the area where your college is located. How far into “reopening” is the region? What are state and local officials recommending regarding college and campus life?
- Adhere to the four basic safety measures for this pandemic: Wear a mask in all indoor and outdoor public spaces, maintain 6 feet of distance from other people, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often, monitor your own health — if you are sick, stay home, self-isolate, and contact the student health office.
- Gather only in small groups, preferably outside.
- Learn your university’s policies on in-person, online, and hybrid classes, and stay informed as the plans may change in response to COVID-19 trends.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY:
- What is the university policy on COVID-19 testing?
- Will there be symptom screenings, such as temperature checks, for students, faculty, and staff?
- Does the college offer a COVID-19 testing site through student or employee health services?
- How does the university handle contact tracing and quarantine to limit an outbreak?
- Is there dedicated housing for quarantine if students should contract the virus?
- How will in-person classes be scheduled to maintain social distancing?
- Will dining halls be configured for social distancing? Will they offer outdoor dining or take-out options with disposable utensils and containers?
- Are vulnerable students accommodated with single-room housing?
- How will the university promote safe and compliant student behavior? Is there an education plan for students, faculty, and staff?
If media is interested in interviewing Dr. Pomrink and his son who attends Temple University, please contact Virtua Health Media Relations.