Back-to-school supplies look different this fall

Annabelle Blomeley, Staff Reporter


To stop the spread of the coronavirus, the University is requiring all students, faculty and staff on campus to wear face masks at all times. So whether you’re attending an hour-long lab or sifting through the books at Gorgas, it’s crucial to find a mask that fits you well and is comfortable for extended periods of time. There are tons of different styles and fabrics to choose from, and you can buy accessories like extenders and chains to make them even more comfortable. It’s important to have multiple masks on hand so you don’t have to wear the same mask every day of the week or worry about forgetting your mask at home.


While washing your hands is a crucial part of stopping the spread of coronavirus, sometimes a sink and hand soap aren’t available when you need them. Getting a good hand sanitizer that you can keep in your backpack will ensure that you never get caught with dirty hands and nowhere to clean them. Though UA has installed several hand sanitizer dispensers in each building on campus, it won’t hurt to have your own bottle just in case. Most stores carry full-size bottles or miniature bottles to slip into your backpack for emergencies. Either way, you’ll feel a lot safer and cleanlier with some hand sanitizer by your side.


Although they’ve been sold out at certain stores for months now, disinfecting wipes can be super helpful for protecting yourself and others both on and off campus. You can use them to clean the front of your notebook, laptop, phone, steering wheel, door handles and just about anything else you touch. These wipes ensure that you aren’t bringing germs and viruses home from campus and other public places, which will keep you and your roommates clean and healthy.


One of the key symptoms that distinguish COVID-19 from other illnesses is a high-grade fever, so having a thermometer at home will be invaluable this semester. Being able to read your temperature can help you better assess your health and ailments so that you can practice essential steps to protect yourself and others. If you find yourself with a fever, you can take the necessary precautions like not going to in-person classes and knowing if you need to seek medical attention for your health. The UA Healthcheck program will gauge students’ temperatures every three days, so keeping a thermometer on hand will help you provide the most accurate results.


While everyone has had to borrow a pencil or piece of paper from a classmate because they’ve forgotten theirs, sharing school supplies can spread coronavirus easily from person to person. The best way to avoid this is to buy your own supplies, whether it’s paper or an extra laptop charger to keep in your backpack for emergencies. Be sure to keep your supplies to yourself so that you don’t infect others. It may seem rude to not share your supplies when someone asks, but it’s for your safety and that of everyone you come into contact with.


Sometimes Chick-Fil-A and Java City Coffee are too good to pass up, but you can help keep yourself safe and healthy when you bring your own food and drink to help minimize shared public spaces and your interactions with other people. Vending machines, water fountains, kiosks and fridges found in various locations across campus can easily be infected by just one sick individual touching the machine or merchandise. When you bring your own filled water bottle and snacks, your risk of contracting coronavirus can drop, which will in turn keep the people around you safe as well.


Whether you’re living on-campus or off, it’s essential for you to have a plan set in place in the event that you contract COVID-19. If you’re living on-campus, make sure you communicate with your roommates, know the University rules and requirements and have a bag of essentials ready should you have to be quarantined. If you live off-campus, have a plan with your roommates in case you contract the virus. Always have enough food and medicine on hand, know when you might need medical attention and have a contact to call in case of an emergency. On top of all that, be familiar with important COVID-19 hotlines, like the UA COVID call center at 205-348-2819, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention at 800-232-4636 and the Alabama Department of Public Health at 1-800-270-7268.