Roommates College and Beyond: Tips for Successful Social Distancing
Posted on August 04 2020
My daughter called me in the afternoon on March 16th and shared that Governor Newsom was about to announce seven counties in the San Francisco Bay area (where she lives) would be under lockdown due to the Coronavirus until April 7. “What does that mean?” I asked. “I forget the term they use” she said as she asked a friend for help. “That’s right…shelter in place” is what they said. The order directed 7.6 million residents to stay home unless it was for "essential business" like buying groceries.
My daughter, living on her own in her own apartment, did not have to worry about roommates. However, her boyfriend had three roommates. Accustomed to coming and going as they wished, they would not be able to do this anymore. According to the Atlantic, if you have a boyfriend that you travel across town to see, it is best to stay at his place or your place (one location) or agree not to see each other because if you have two roommates and he has four that is eight people who are being exposed to each other. And if one or two of your roommates are essential workers or attending classes on campus, that number increases even more.
To keep from getting the Coronavirus, we learned the importance of social distancing. But what does social distancing really mean when you are living with four other adults, not necessarily related to you, who serve as roommates? We know when we are outside or at a grocery store, we should keep 6 feet apart from each other, but that will be difficult to accomplish and enforce in a dorm, apartment or small home.
If you are seeking a list of things you can do to ensure a safe environment and at the same time help you successfully co-exist with roommates who may or may not be working remotely or attending college classes, keep reading. We are confident that at least one of our tips will be implemented by your adult child or college student this coming fall.
- Have a Formal Conversation About the Coronavirus with your Roommate(s)
One of the very first things you need to do if you have roommates is sit down with them and discuss what rules the group feels comfortable implementing during the pandemic and what they do not. The Hearth in Oakland, California created Coronavirus quarantine guidelines for communal living. A list of precautions is offered such as “washing your hands for 20 seconds immediately upon entering the house or apartment. Clean at-risk surfaces daily: Use disinfectant on the surfaces we touch while washing our hands (Front doorknob. Bathroom doorknob, light switch, sink handle. Kitchen sink handle.)”. When the list of precautions is being followed, you have permission to hang out with people in your bubble. This means you can share air space.
Others are creating a social distancing version of a roommate agreement. Items to be discussed include cleaning protocol, personal space boundaries, steps to implement if a roommate becomes ill (Isolate in bedroom, when the symptomatic roommate leaves the room, they should wear mask and gloves, roommates bring food to them wearing mask and gloves) and who to include in your pod, bubble or collective social circle of friends.
2. Take Shifts in the Common Areas of the House or Apartment
Create an informal schedule so that roommates living in the house or apartment never use the common space at the same time. Some roommates may be working or attending classes on campus while others are working or taking classes remotely. Give the 1st shift to those who need to get out of the house or apartment early. The same goes for other common areas such as the living areas. When others come home, you can always retreat to your bedroom. The important thing to remember is to disinfect and clean up after yourself when you leave a common space.
3. Bond With Each Other Maintaining Good Social Distancing
There's lots of activities you can engage in that keep you a comfortable distance away. Whether you decide to play inside or out, bonding with your roommates can help put everyone at ease and reduce conflicts in the future. Today listed 14 yard games to enjoy outside while social distancing from human inflatable Bumper Bubble Balls to Giant Jenga. Take this opportunity during the pandemic to explore new activities. You never know, you may discover a new hobby.
4. Create Time and Space to be Alone
Everyone needs some time to be alone. Whether you go to the library, a park or cozy up to a good book in your bedroom, it helps provide a calmness to an incredibly challenging time in your life. Furthermore, spending time with or without your roommates helps you keep balanced as an individual in a positive way.
Roommates are one of the most important aspects of college life and beyond. Without them, some students and young adults would be unable to afford living in a big city like New York City or San Francisco. Some will become your closest friends. Take the time now to cultivate close relationships.
“In essence, a roommate is someone who will become part of your new family. The last thing you want is to come home to drama all the time or to a chaotic, messy kitchen when you just want to put up your feet and chill.”
Michele Hall; Kathrin Lake
Rebecca Hastings is the CEO/Founder of hugabox, college care packages with a purpose (90% of the proceeds go to childhood cancer research). She is a huge advocate for sarcoma cancer research funding and works with others across the country to make childhood cancer a national priority. When she is not working, she is off hiking, skiing and playing golf with her husband. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram @ hugabox.
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