COVID-19 Risk Reduction Tips for Students Living in Shared Housing

July 24, 2020

Living in a pandemic isn’t easy, and we all long to go back to “normal.”   In the meantime, we’re all doing our part to reduce the spread of the virus and keep our Wildcat Family as healthy as possible. 

Our knowledge about COVID-19 is evolving and growing.  There are four main factors that are key in how the virus spreads:  how close you get to an infected person; how long you are near the infected person; whether or not viral droplets (from a sneeze, a cough, saliva) get expelled on you; and how much you touch your eyes, nose, mouth afterwards.


The best way to prevent COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus. While some of the best practices may be slightly uncomfortable or annoying, prevention is key.  For students sharing a dorm room, apartment, or home with one or more people, these recommendations can help reduce the risk of transmitting or getting COVID-19.

1.  Wash your hands often.  Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap* and water:

  • Before eating or preparing food
  • Before touching your face
  • After using the restroom
  • After leaving a public place and/or returning to your living area
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After handling your face covering
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

*If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. 

2. Maintain 6 feet of physical distance (about 2 arm lengths) between yourself and anyone that does not live with you. 

3. Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, or eating utensils. Serving items used should be washed with dish soap and hot water or in a dishwasher.

4. Clean & disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily (doorknobs, tables, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets).

5. Meet outdoors whenever possible. Our campus has lots of beautiful places to play, study, and meet outdoors. It is not advisable to have visitors inside your living space/home.  Any indoor visitors should maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or more and wear a face-covering.

6. Wear a face covering over your mouth and nose when outside your dorm/apartment/house. The more people who wear masks, the more we all stay safer.  Wearing a mask does not replace physical distancing-it is in addition to staying 6 feet apart.


When students move into the dorms, they will be tested at McKale Center prior to moving into their assigned housing. It will be a rapid test and results will be available the same day.  Here is the current information about COVID-19 testing for students moving into dorms

Prior to traveling to campus, it would be a good idea to have a COVID-19 test to see if your student is currently infected (not an antibody test, which tests for previous infection).  Due to low availability of testing in certain areas of the country, and the wait to obtain test results, we advise getting tested and allow enough time to get results just prior to your departure.  After the test, the student should avoid contact with others to minimize the risk of infection prior to coming to campus.

If a student moving into the dorms tests positive for COVID-19 upon arrival to campus, they will be offered a temporary room thru campus housing for isolation, or asked to isolate off campus until cleared to return.  They will be referred to Campus Health and receive follow-up care from the medical staff via telehealth.  Most young adults who become infected with COVID-19 have very mild (or no) symptoms and recover well on their own. 


Students living in the dorms will be offered alternative housing to isolate until cleared to return to their assigned housing (see “temporary room” link above).  Off-campus students will need to find a place to isolate while they recover. Here are tips for managing illness:

  • Stay home if you have a fever, chills, cough, body aches, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, extreme fatigue, headache, or other symptoms of COVID-19
  • Contact your healthcare provider or Campus Health at (520) 621-9202
  • Stay away from others
  • Get rest and stay hydrated
  • Wear a face covering if you must be around other people
  • Keep track of your symptoms
  • If you have difficulty breathing, inability to stay awake, bluish lips or face, seek emergency medical care immediately. Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility.

Campus Health is a service available to all registered University of Arizona students who have paid the Health & Recreation fee.  If there is an urgent need for in-person care, call (520) 621-9202 first. Most visits to Campus Health can be done via telehealth.  Insurance is NOT required to receive health care at Campus Health. We bill most major insurance companies (AETNA, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cigna, United, Health Net). Other charges can be billed to Bursar accounts for current students.

For much more information about the re-entry plan, please visit the Re-entry website.

Remember:  We are all in this together and can all do our part to keep our Wildcat Family healthy.