Residence Hall Public Health Guidance
Last updated March 20, 2020
What are the state public health recommendations related to students in residence halls, when residence halls are deemed critical?
Is it safe to go to class but wear a mask (reaction of classmates and professor?)
No, if coughing, students and staff should stay home and should not attend classes, events or congregate areas of campus. If student is living in a dorm, they should wear mask while in the dorm.
Is it safe to go to dining hall but wear a mask?
A student who is coughing or has symptoms should avoid congregate settings. If possible, have a friend bring food to their room in the dorm. If this is not possible, the student should wear a mask to the dining hall to get food to bring back to their room. In this case, it is best that the student not self-serve; however, with a mask in place and hand sanitizer at the beginning of the line, it may be considered.
Is it safe for a student with symptoms to return to the residence hall?
The student and the school should consider whether there is an alternative setting(s) to the residence hall that is feasible to return the student to; for example, home; or other, less dense housing). If there is no feasible alternative, the student should return to the residence hall and wear a mask if they are coughing.
How many students can be placed in isolation daily?
Self-isolation means limiting contact with other people as much as possible. This includes isolating yourself as much as possible from anyone living in your residence. There is no limit on the number of students who can self-isolate.
When should a student be sent to their home of record?
If a student is coughing, and it is feasible and practicable to send them home without increasing risk to the individual or the public, this should be the first choice.
Are there any particular things that we should do with laundry, waste, meals?
Standard laundering will do the job of killing the coronavirus. People emptying waste baskets with used tissues should wear gloves and wash thoroughly when the task is complete. Standard food-handler hygiene applies to food waste.
What are the reporting and communication recommendations related to students in residence halls who are ill or symptomatic?
Should a school/provider tell anyone in the residence hall that another resident is symptomatic or diagnosed with COVID-19?
Healthcare providers are required to maintain the confidentiality of patients and should not report or broadcast patient information to anyone. The student will make their own determination of whether and how much to share.
Should the school share or report symptoms or illness of individuals to others?
No, schools should not share or report symptoms or illness and should leave it up to the student to share if they wish to share. Students should not be advised or pressured to share confidential health information.
Should the school respond if a symptomatic resident discloses to their co-resident “they are checking for coronavirus, but don’t think I really have it.”
Schools should leave it up to the student to share if they wish to share. Students should not be advised or pressured to share confidential health information.
Should a resident’s parents be told that their child is in a room with someone who is being monitored/is symptomatic for COVID-19?
OHA cannot disclose any information about whom we are testing and for what. Many people are now being tested for COVID-19, and the vast majority do not have it. If your child is a contact of a known case, public health officials will be following up with him or her.
What is the best way to reduce stigma and support a logical and calm response among other residents and staff who may work in a resident hall where a person is being monitored?
People do best when they have fact-based information about an illness and knowledge of what they can do to protect themselves and their families. Schools can pro-actively sharing information about COVID-19, share that flu is also circulating, and make clear in communications that many people with either flu or COVID-19 have mild illness. Anyone who’s sick should self-isolate and stay away from others until symptoms resolve. If some contact with others is unavoidable, spread can be reduced if the coughing person wears a mask. Sharing accurate information during a time of heightened concern is critical to keep rumors and misinformation from spreading. You can help by pointing people to reliable sources only such as the OHA or CDC.
How do we best manage the reaction of campus as word spreads that there are individuals in isolation on the campus?
People do best when they have fact-based information about an illness and knowledge of what they can do to protect themselves and their families. Schools can pro-actively sharing information about COVID-19, share that flu is also circulating, and make clear in communications that many people with either flu or COVID-19 have mild illness. School leadership should regularly communicate with the campus community and parents about steps they are taking to keep their campus safe, and support those who may be self-isolated in residences. Sharing accurate information during a time of heightened concern is critical to keep rumors and misinformation from spreading. You can help by pointing people to reliable sources only such as the OHA or CDC.