Like other parents of college students living on campus, we contacted about the start of this school year.
How will our two children – aged 18 and 21, both attend out-of-state universities – if they contract COVID-19? How will they handle the symptoms and quarantine of the virus? If they became ill, how would we feel so far from them?
It didn’t take us long to find out. After just two weeks of living in a dorm suite with three roommates at his small university, our new son tested positive for coronavirus.
“When we are facing the reality of all the things we cannot control, our immediate reaction is crime.”
Initially, there were phone calls and texts to help her navigate the very intensive protocols of testing at her school, informing contacts and finding space to separate. The school only allows a 30-minute window, so that it can be separated, so she has to return to her hostel, throw some essentials into a bag and be thrown out.
Thanks to the extreme generosity of the family of a roommate who lives locally, he had a quarantine location on campus and lived in his basement for 12 days alone. He was lucky that his symptoms were relatively mild, much the same as worsening with headaches, sore throat, and tiredness. We were lucky to have adults regularly checking on it.
COVID-19 in college: how to cope
While my husband and I knew that there was a possibility that both children would eventually be exposed to the virus on campus, we did not have a great plan. I was not prepared for the onslaught of feelings – fear, anxiety, guilt generated by the one-word text sent by our son after receiving my test results: “positive.” (He paired the smiling face with an sunglasses emoji for an extra special touch.)
First of all, there is a fear of having the worst situation with your child. Although the Centers for Disease Control states that most adolescents and young adults are at a reduced risk of complications from COVID-19, some serious diseases can still occur. Upon hearing that he had to be tested, we sent his son a link to the CDC symptoms and he immediately texted back: “I definitely have,” describing chills and headaches.
Have a preventive action plan
Washington DC-based emergency medicine physician and government health policy advisor Drs. Valda c. Crowder says it is most important for students to visit campus with an action plan to stay safe.
“I am asking parents to talk about it like you would have talked about drunk driving. Let them sit down and say, ‘This is no joke,’ “said Crowder, who hosts a biowecky webinar answering questions related to coronoviruses.
Everything from wearing masks (a different one for every day of the week) to diligent handwashing is part of a college student’s “combat coronavirus” plan to not attend big ceremonies.
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Students and parents should know the capabilities of the university’s medical center or health clinic and whether they are open 24 hours a day or during business hours. Also know where the nearest hospital emergency department is, Crowder said.
Check with them often
While we usually communicate with our son only once or twice a week, our concern calls for daily texts and inquiries about his symptoms. (A monosalabic juvenile tector, the exchange goes something like this – I: “How’s your throat?”: His: “In the throat.”) While FaceTime occasionally allowed us to see him, his recovery was anticipated. It was difficult to apply.
Dr., an emergency medical doctor based in Keller, Texas. Mayisha Taylor suggests checking every few hours how your child is doing. “During an epidemic like this, being diagnosed can make you feel emotionally isolated. Taylor said it is important to create a virtual support network for your child and help them feel connected.
She says ask your child specifically about shortness of breath, shortness of breath, chest pain and any other recurring issues. “I’ll keep a daily diary of your discussions with my child,” Taylor said, if you need to share them with a therapist. (Another tip: see if your regular doctors provide virtual / tele-medicine appointments for your student while they are in college.)
Get a pulse oximeter
Both children were sent with supplies of masks, hand sanitizers, a digital thermometer, and a first aid kit, I think they were prescribed for any condition. Turns out I missed a big thing.
Crowder states that once a student tests positive, a fingertip pulse oximeter is an essential item to measure blood oxidation saturation (SpO2) levels.
“One of the things about this disease is that people have shortness of breath and they don’t know they are short of breath,” Crowder said. “The most important thing for them is to check their oxidation with a pulse bull machine … twice a day.”
Crowder noted that a healthy, non-smoking person should measure blood oxidation saturation levels from 98 percent to 100 percent when he or she is breathing normally.
“Less than 95 percent and they should go to the emergency room,” Crowder said, which means they need to call 911 because if they’re positive, they shouldn’t get in the car with anyone else.
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Do not forget to ask about mental health
Whether your child has a coronovirus, is worried about getting it or is stressed about other aspects of this year’s college experience that will help them manage stress on mental health.
Child Development and Parenting Specialist Dr. Deborah Gilboa said that it is important for parents not to put their stress on their college children.
Gilboa said, “Don’t understand what will be difficult and stressful about you.” “It is easy for us to see what they are experiencing and know how we will feel. But what we don’t know is how they feel, so the first thing to do is just ask. And whatever they are experiencing is empathy without the need to feel responsible for fixing it, because you can’t. “
Do not feel guilty, whether you are a student or a parent
When our son tested positive for coronavirus, his roommate had to quarantine in the dorm room for 14 days. Oh, the guilt … felt by our son and us! When my son said that his throat was hurt, the family he lived in would give him tea and honey. Oh, guilt … for not being able to get that for yourself!
“We as parents feel guilty about this because we ignore what we can control. So, because we feel that we should be able to control when and how our children live or become ill, or when and how they are taken care of, we have a sense of responsibility. “Then, when we are facing the reality of everything we cannot control, our immediate reaction is crime.”
Gilboa says that unless the crime is useful, regret.
“If your child is on campus, and they went to a program and they saw that people were behaving in ways that they thought were risky, but they stayed – and then they finally got to test. Gone because they have symptoms or they end up being positive, it is helpful to feel some remorse because it will change their behavior next time, ”she said.
Our son is back on his dorm without any health issues. till now. We know that COVID-19 is villi.
Meanwhile, this week our daughter, a senior at a large state university, informed us that one of her apartment-mates has a coronavirus.
Our daughter was tested and fortunately, she is negative. However, you can bet that a pulse oximeter is already in its match.