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COVID-19 and Student Housing

The life of a student is complicated and unique. We know that many of our students are living in off-campus housing. We recognize that this is a large part of the student experience, and we want to offer some tips and considerations on how to stay safe while living in off-campus housing during a pandemic.

Over the past year and a half, we have spoken to many students who have been impacted by COVID-19 while living in student housing. We hope the guidelines below help keep you safe:

Brought to you in partnership with Mohawk College and Hamilton Public Health

Keep Up to Date

Stay up to date with local Public Health officials. If there is an emergency, keep your emergency contacts in a shared space so that your housemates have easy access to this information, if needed.

Be Prepared

Continually, it is helpful to consider roommates who may have an increased risk for illness. If you are able to, discuss options on what to do if someone in your household were to get sick.

Some questions to consider:

  • Is there a separate bathroom that someone who is ill can use?
  • If someone does get sick, are roommates okay with the possibility of preparing meals for them?

It is also important to:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently (guidelines suggest 20 seconds, but you can also sing the “Happy Birthday” song). Video for hand hygiene.
  • Have hand sanitizer at the door so that, as you enter the home, you can clean your hands. Rub your hands until your hands are dry. Make sure you get sanitizer on all surfaces of your hands. Video for hand sanitizing.
  • Be open and honest with your roommates about any symptoms you may be experiencing.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Cover your sneeze or cough with a tissue and dispose of the tissue into the garbage. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Clean ‘high-touch’ surfaces regularly (doorknobs, light switches, taps, door handles, countertops). These surfaces can also include money/cash, doorknobs, handrails, elevator buttons, light switches, cabinet handles, faucet handles, tables, countertops and electronics. In child and youth settings, such surfaces may include toys and play/sports equipment.
  • Consider wearing a mask or face shield when in public.

Cleaning Tips

Cleaning your house and hands is one of the best ways to prevent any sickness.

  • Clean high-touch areas daily and after you have a guest in your home.
  • Clean other surfaces in the home when they are visibly dirty or as needed. It’s always a good idea to clean more frequently after having a guest in the home.
  • Always follow the directions on the label of your cleaning products, check the expiry date of products that you use and check to see if the product has a disinfecting agent in the ingredients.
  • Wear gloves when cleaning and ensure proper ventilation while using a disinfectant.

When cleaning when a roommate is sick:

  • If the sick person is able to clean, make sure to provide them with their supplies (paper towels, toilet paper, cleaners). The sick person should clean all surfaces and items after each use in shared spaces.
  • If the sick person is not able to clean, the sick person should wear a mask and gloves before entering shared rooms.
  • When the sick person has finished their isolation period, they should still wear a mask when entering a room if you can wait 24 hours to clean the areas that the sick person used (bedroom or bathroom).
  • After eating, wear gloves when handling dishes/utensils for the sick person. If you can, use the dishwasher to clean their dishes. If you do not have a dishwasher, using hot water and soap is a good alternative. Make sure you wash your hands after handling their dishes.
  • Use a dedicated garbage bin when taking the sick person’s garbage and wash your hands after handling their garbage.
  • Always store cleaning products as directed on the label.

For soft surfaces (rugs, carpets, drapes)

  • Clean the surfaces with soap & water or with designated cleaners for these surfaces.


  • For laundry, use warm water and make sure to dry items completely. You can also use vinegar for dual purposes: fabric softener and disinfectant.
  • If handling laundry for someone sick, wear gloves and a mask. Handle the linens of the sick individual gently. Don’t shake the dirty laundry. It would be best if you also placed the laundry of the sick individual in a disposable plastic bag.
  • Clean laundry hampers or baskets. Wash your hands after handling dirty laundry.
  • Wear a mask in shared laundry areas.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after touching surfaces such as washing machines and dryers.
  • Limit your time in the shared laundry space. Sort and fold laundered items in your room.