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Items to include in college students' quarantine bags

FALLBROOK – Millions of parents dropped their children off on college campuses for the start of a new school year in August. While that might not stand out in a normal year, 2020 has proven to be anything but normal.

Many colleges and universities grappled with how to approach the 2020-2021 academic year as the world continued to battle the COVID-19 outbreak. Some schools chose to offer only remote learning and keep students off campus entirely, while others offered in person classes and welcomed students back to campus. Still others created hybrid learning plans that combined remote learning with in person sessions.

Regardless of which option schools ultimately chose, it's fair to say that many recognized the potential that the pandemic could once again upset the academic apple cart after the semester began, forcing students and educators to adjust to fully remote learning in much the same way they did back in March. In addition to that potential outcome, students who returned to campus must be prepared to enter quarantine if they or a friend, classmate or roommate tests positive for COVID-19. In anticipation of that, it pays for students to prepare quarantine bags in case they need to isolate themselves at any point during the semester.


Few college students have exclusive access to washers and dryers in their dorm rooms or apartments. Shared laundry rooms will likely be off limits while students are under quarantine, so make sure to pack enough clothing to get through two weeks of isolation. Take inventory of their supply of pajamas, underwear and socks and purchase more if necessary.

Food and cooking supplies

College students accustomed to eating their meals at the dining hall food may need to prepare their own meals while in quarantine. Stock up on nonperishable items, such as pasta, soup, rice and cereal, that can be stored in their room for long periods of time without expiring. Bottled water can help them stay hydrated should they feel ill, while decaffeinated tea can help the student stay warm should they feel chills. Bring along a mini refrigerator, a toaster or toaster oven, a tea kettle, some pots and pans, bowls and plates and utensils as well.

Medical supplies

Extra masks are a must-have when returning to campus, and they can help students make it through quarantine as well. Masks can be worn when using restrooms or showers, even if students are attending schools that plan to isolate people who test positive in buildings that cannot be accessed by non-infected community members.

In addition to extra masks, make sure the student has enough daily medical supplies, such as toothpaste, shampoo, body lotion or soap, deodorant, tissues and disinfectant, to last through quarantine, which is typically no less than two weeks.


While in quarantine, students will want to stay connected to the outside world, and parents will no doubt want to check in as often as possible to see how their children are faring. A reliable laptop, desktop or tablet can ensure students can chat with family and friends and even stay up-to-date with their schoolwork via the Zoom conferencing app. A backup phone charger also can make sure students stay connected throughout their quarantine period.

Quarantine bags can help students returning to college campuses this fall safely navigate their time in isolation. 


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