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With the school year starting up again, many of us are moving back to Riverside to focus on our classes and other activities. This also means that many of us will be moving back in with our roommates. After being cooped up with our parents for so long, it’s only natural for us to be excited about this change. Once again, we will have the opportunity and freedom to go where we want and see whoever we want. However, with the pandemic still looming around, it’s important that we stay safe and work hard to keep ourselves and those around us healthy despite the lack of parental supervision.

Establishing open communication with your roommate is essential. While living with your friends during a pandemic can be exciting and serve as a great way to pass the time, it can also create a handful of tricky situations. By taking the time to openly discuss what you and your roommates are all comfortable with, you can avoid awkward or potentially dangerous situations. Being open and honest is a great way to set up your boundaries and comfort levels. Many students have even come up with contracts to ensure their safety and the safety of those they live with. In it, they include topics such as: not seeing people outside of their quarantine pod, practicing proper hygiene when returning home, practicing social distancing, avoiding enclosed spaces and so on. Having a contract drawn up will hold everyone accountable and will allow everyone to voice their opinion and work to dispute any arguments. It’s important to remember that at a time like this, our actions have detrimental effects, so we need to respect the opinions of those we live with and not ask them to do anything that they are uncomfortable with. 

Meeting new people and seeing old friends can be exciting but also kind of stressful right now. After all, we want to maintain a healthy social life for our mental health without putting our physical health in danger. We can do this by following the CDC guidelines (maintaining six feet apart and wearing masks) when meeting with people. And although it’s not necessary, it can be helpful to let your roommates know who you are meeting up with. Keep in mind that if you plan on seeing people without masks on or having people over at your place, you need to have a discussion with your roommates first. For example, if your significant other plans on staying over every now and then, you need to make sure your roommates are ok with them coming and going. This may include having your significant other tested for coronavirus or having them sign and agree to the roommate contract as well. 

Ultimately, have an emergency plan set in place. Figure out beforehand what to do if you or one of your roommates gets sick and are diagnosed with coronavirus. For example, create a designated quarantine area or make plans to move out. By having a plan set up already, you and your roommates can move effectively while hopefully keeping everyone else safe. All this may seem like a hassle and maybe even a bit unnecessary, but with nearly a year passing and no vaccine in place, we need to change our habits and adapt to the situations in front of us. The pandemic will only get better if we take it seriously and if we recognize just how profound our actions can be.