The coronavirus pandemic has inspired panic and confusion across the higher education landscape, with canceled exams, final performances, and graduation ceremonies. College students have been evicted with little notice. School leaders are scrambling to triage students and accommodate the resources needed. The information available is overwhelming and not always accurate. Here are some actionable steps and advice amidst the chaos.

Moving out

Many students learned about the campus closures at the same time as administrators, creating a whirlwind of questions with few concrete answers. Be patient, and share resources when possible (but not your vape pens, please). Some students have pooled together to rent storage lockers; others with residences close to campus have offered to store belongings for those from out of state. Many students rely on financial aid and campus resources, and travel costs can be daunting, as can securing consistent meals. This public health crisis has only emphasized the socioeconomic divide in higher education. Some schools are reimbursing student travel costs; others are providing takeout meals. Keep communicating with school officials for updates on everything from health care to dining halls and shelter. Stay informed of recommended safety measures while you adjust to the unknowns of these closed campuses.

Learning from home (or a friend’s couch)

Institutions have moved their courses online. Most universities have offered virtual coursework and degree programs for years, so students can expect an effective substitute for their on-site academic counterparts. But without the desks and equipment, and with the sudden flexibility, especially if you’re easily distracted or rely on more kinesthetic classroom experiences, virtual learning can create barriers. It’s important to cultivate a learning space and engage in the online class discussion. Print off slides and lectures. Take notes during presentations. Develop virtual classroom strategies that will keep you accountable. And, just like you would on campus, leave the hard seltzer in the fridge until after class.

Making it a staycation

Spring break is looking a whole lot different this year. Instead of packing bikinis and sunblock, college students around the United States are preparing for a long-term hiatus at home (if a home is available). Having wrapped up midterm season, you deserve a break. Get creative with the resources you have. Look up some at-home face mask recipes. Give yourself a luxurious pedicure. Pick up a book you’ve been eager to read. Take a walk around the neighborhood or at a local park. Find ways to enjoy the break in your routine.

Maintaining hygiene

It may sound redundant at this point, but amidst the stress and the unknowns, make sure to take care of yourself. Take your time cooking healthful meals, exercise, and get plenty of sleep. Sing “Happy Birthday” twice as you wash your hands. There’s still a very real risk for the regular flu and sinus infections, and the clinic is the last place you want to be right now.

Many students rely on universities for safe shelter, social stability, meals, and mental health support. Help one another. Make time to call and check in on your friends. Share your own tips and tricks as you navigate the next few weeks. The campus community shouldn’t suffer just because you’re not on campus.

You’ve heard your fair share of college-health adages: “Avoid the freshmen 15,” “Don’t accept drinks from strangers,” “Wear protection!” Nonetheless, as new viruses evolve and old ones reemerge, adopting good hygiene is essential to preventing sickness in college. Of course, in 2020 the novel coronavirus is a new disease that is spreading rapidly around the world. In 2019, universities in New York, New Jersey, and California saw outbreaks of meningitis, prompting states to reevaluate mandatory vaccinations for incoming students. In 2018, Dartmouth and Johns Hopkins both battled multiple cases of hand, foot, and mouth disease on campus.

In England, mumps cases have reached their highest in a decade. There are plenty of basic precautions you can take — make sure you wash your hands and cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. And use hand sanitizer often, especially if you’ve interacted with others who are sick. In particular, dormitories, with their high student populations and shared resources, provide a perfect home for all sorts of nasty germs. Masks are generally unnecessary, unless you are sick they help prevent the spread of germ droplets when you cough or sneeze. So, in between classes, clubs, football games, and parties, dedicate some time for dorm room cleanliness. Below are some of the top — and often neglected — tips.

Laundry Day

A recent study revealed that male-populated rooms have six times the number of bacteria as their female counterparts. Moreover, the germiest hotspots in the average male dorm room are the bedsheets. Mom doesn’t live on campus, gentlemen. Washing sheets, pillowcases, and other machine-washable bed linens will make a major hygienic impact on your everyday life. Most institutions offer affordable, large-scale washers and dryers on campus, typically within each dormitory. If not, local laundromats aren’t too far. Best practice suggests washing linens once a week.

Lose Last Season’s Lipstick

Old makeup, not to mention the brushes and accessories, hosts all kinds of bacteria. Take care to wash makeup applicators and brushes — those fibers and sponges are porous, which keeps bacteria lodged in them. Replace makeup every few months. And while your roommate’s glitter lip gloss may intrigue you, avoid sharing makeup. Generally, bathroom items, whether makeup, toothbrushes, loofahs, or hair accessories, should be replaced more frequently than you might think!

Sanitize Everything

Think bathroom doorknobs, desks, iPhones, keyboards, you name it. Whether you have roommates or frequent guests, sanitizing shared surfaces is essential to maintaining good dorm health. Clean thoroughly and often. Keep an eye out for mold in the bathroom or other moist spaces.

Flip Your Mattress

You may wish to avoid the thought, but you’re likely not the first student to sleep on that dorm mattress. While popular memory-foam mattresses today are meant for one orientation, traditional spring mattresses require a 180-degree flip a few times a year. In warmer climates especially, this is important to prevent mold and increase airflow.

Take Out the Trash

It’s one of the worst chores, but also one of the most imperative. Garbage is a magnet for bacteria-carrying insects, like roaches and flies. Most institutions have trash and recycling centers in or nearby dorms. Dorm rooms are small enough as it is. Avoid the smell and the bugs and take out your trash at least once a week.

By following these simple personal hygiene and etiquette tips, you could save yourself alot of hassle by staying healthy and preventing diseases from spreading on campus.