by Carolyn George, M.D., author of The Dorm Doctor

Under normal circumstances preparing our children for their launch to college is full of joy, trepidation, and a to-do list a mile long. This is why I wrote “The Dorm Doctor” as my own children navigated their college journey. My oldest graduated last year, and my twin sons still have a year to go. This summer, I have witnessed their disappointments as their internships turned into remote positions and now their anxiety and angst about online classes and how these changes will affect their social life during their last year of college.

Whether your teen is embarking on their first year of college or onto their last, or somewhere in between, we as parents will need to play a large part in keeping them safe and easing their frustrations during this unprecedented COVID-19 challenge.

Here are some tips on how to assuage your teen’s fears and help them to beat the odds of the virus.

First and foremost, safety:

  • Make sure they have clip-on sanitizer that goes everywhere with them. But that does not cancel out hand washing. Emphasize to the student that they should wash their hands with soap and water as much as possible.
  • Make sure they have plenty of antibacterial wipes, and they regularly clean the touchpoints in their dorm rooms and classrooms, if possible. Also, phones should be cleaned every night.
  • If they wear glasses, this would be preferable to contacts as they present a barrier. If not, non-prescription lens glasses will offer protection and keep their fingers away from their eyes. Buy some modern and fun glasses for them that they will enjoy wearing.

The new social norms:

  • Of course, tell them they should not smoke. However, if you don’t believe your teen will abstain, emphasize the importance of not sharing smoking accessories.
  • It’s always been a good idea not to share too much in college. This excerpt from my book, “The Dorm Doctor” applies now more than ever.



Even though most of your childhood, your parents told you to share. This does not necessarily apply to certain things in college. So, DON’T SHARE the following:

  1. Toothbrushes (viral infections, strep, etc.)
  2. Razors (blood-borne disease and skin infections.)
  3. Towels (skin infections)
  4. Make-up (Particularly eye-makeup) (staph, mites)
  5. Hats (Lice)
  6. Hairbrushes (Lice again)
  7. Smoking devices, such as vape pens, etc. (mono, strep, colds, etc.)
  • Socializing should take place outside as much as possible. Avoid crowded bars and restaurants.
  • Avoid handshakes and hugging.


Preventative measures:

  • Stay strong. Your immune system is your friend. Eat healthy, exercise, and limit the use of alcohol.
  • Think about keeping zinc lozenges on hand and use them often. Limit to 15-25 mg – a day. Also, anti-viral aromatherapy sprays may be helpful.
  • Get tested when you feel your health has been compromised. Some colleges are advocating testing students every 2-3 days for COVID-19. Follow the guidelines of your school, and if you feel sick, request a test.


Next week, we will talk about what to do if your child tests positive. For more information about transitioning to college and addressing health and safety concerns, go to my sister website,