The pandemic has brought so many changes to lifestyle, housekeeping, and general upkeep. In my part of the world (Ghana), the government has managed to control the spread to an extent with strict adherence to the protocols. The aim is to gradually bring back everything to normalcy.
Hence, schools have started reopening especially for those in higher education and final year students across the senior and junior high schools
My medical school is also using this approach to getting us back in no time. However, going back to a potentially high-risk COVID-19 area, as is one of the biggest referral centers and teaching hospitals in the country, has sparked some form of fear and uncertainty in most of us, the students.
Therefore, the need to adequately prepared for a very risky journey is what I’m putting together now. I’ve come up with this comprehensive list of back to school essentials that’ll cater to the health needs and personal wellbeing of each student. Not just for the medical students
The various sections will cover PPEs, first aid kits and personal items you’ll most probably need on campus.
This is the most important category because of what the entire world is going through now. On the list is;
Whether surgical, N95 or those made from a piece of cloth (like the beautiful Ankara fabrics), every student should carry enough to take care of a period of about 5 months. Although the non-surgical masks are reusable, it would be a daunting task for the student to wash these tiny fabrics at the end of each day. Using a new one a day and keeping them in a trash bag is a better way of saving time and effort.
A much better way of understanding the use of gloves as a safety measure is likened to the fact that there’s a reduced tendency to touch the eyes, nose, and face in the event that one comes into contact with COVID-19 infected surfaces. Therefore, going to a public space as the classroom or medical ward (for medical students) would require this highly important PPE. A box or two of gloves will suffice for a semester/term
***For students with even greater risk of infection like the medical students who check on patients, these extra PPE’s are needed. How many of these items to pack each will be based on how high or low you perceive your surrounding to be but I’d encourage you to have as many in case of emergency? What we want to avoid also is borrowing from others. It could be another form of spread of the virus
3. Face shield
Wearing the face shield over an appropriate face mask offers another level of protection in an area with a higher chance of infection
To avoid infection through aerosols to the eyes.
These are particularly for medical students. It’s funny how these gowns were once only a requirement for surgical activity but now an essential everyday PPE
Personal Hygiene Essentials
6. Hand sanitizers
We all know the importance of high sanitizers in this era. Have as many portable ones to carry around. I plan on setting a 30minutes reminder on my phone to alert me to sanitize at that instance
7. Disinfectant Wipes
An actual disinfectant or antiseptic spray may not be that handy. Disinfectant wipes are a great alternative. Use them to wipe all surfaces before physical contact with them.
8. Disinfectant/ Antiseptics
I prefer to use these in the dorm mostly right after class to clean my phone, books, and other items I took with me to class. Tables, chairs, utensils, toilet seats, etc need this treatment too. I know it’s going to be hard but we have to do it!
9. Hand soap
Buying medicated soaps shouldn’t be a must because at the end of the day washing hands the right way is the most important thing. I know this is usually on our back to school checklist but the number has to more considering the COVID-19 and its effects. Again, get as many for a period of about 5 months
Learn how to wash your hands properly here
10. Toilet/Tissue paper
I still don’t understand why there was a sudden rush for toilet paper in grocery shops during the lockdown. Well, I hope there’s still some left on the shelves for the many people going back to school in this season. Pack as many as required or desired. The small paper napkins can be kept in backpacks to class as an alternative for the disinfectant wipes I mentioned earlier. Just put a considerate amount of the hand sanitizer on the tissue paper and wipe thoroughly on all surfaces
Immune boosters & Teas
11. Green tea
So many of you will have to do away with the coffee and beverages for now and incorporate green tea into your routines. According to the UPASI Tea Research Institute at Coonoor in Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu, green tea and black tea has a potential anti-replication effect on the coronavirus. Although not fully established, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start this amazing health habit of drinking green tea also to reduce fat and lower risk of getting cardiovascular diseases.
Read more on the emerging health benefits of tea to combat COVID-19:
12. Fresh lemons / Lemon juice
As studies on coronavirus are ongoing, more and more at home remedies are being recommended by healthcare officials TO BOOST THE IMMUNE SYSTEM (not to cure Covid-19). Lemon water is a healthful, low calorie, and low sugar beverage that can boost a person’s vitamin C intake, and vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. All that this means is Vit C builds the immune system to fight off infections whenever they arise.
Read more on benefits of lemon water here
13. Other immune boosters
Depending on which part of the world you live in, there may be one or two locally recommended immune boosters that you might want to take along with you to school. In Ghana, the most recommended are Hibiscus tea (sobolo) and the neem tree plant. Let me know what yours is the comment section below and would you add them to your back to school supplies?
First Aid Kit
You could simply DIY a first aid kit making sure to add the most important medications and tools. Katie shares how she makes her DIY first aid kit in this blogpost.
In my opinion, these items below are important in your first aid box. Never miss them
- Ice pack
- Pair of small scissors
- Vitamin C
- Cough and cold medications (Throat lozenges)
- Fever medications (Antipyretics)
- Pain relievers (Antiinflammatory drugs)
- Stomach relief
- Allergy medications (nebulizers etc)
Other dorm essentials
I mentioned the need to change and use new face/nose masks as often as possible. It is also important to drop them directly into a trash bag immediately they’re taken off in order to prevent a possible infection from the outer surface of the mask to other surfaces especially your hands. This is very crucial!
16. Facial tissues/wipes
For removing makeup after class and just getting a good facial cleanse right after school in the situation where you’d want to skip a bath
17. Portable potty
I’m not sure how many of us can keep this in a shared room because the stenchhhh!! No, but on a more serious note, you can line the potty with these same waste bags and dispose of the biowaste right after so that you’re keeping a clean potty all the time. Don’t let this create a problem between you and your roomie.
The reason why I’d choose this over a shared washroom /bathhouse is for obvious reasons. Surface infection concerning the washroom doors, seat covers, etc and the less likely, aerosol transmission. Just trying to be safe!
18. Microfiber cloth
For cleaning surfaces. I prefer this to paper towels or tissues. I’ll be using this to regularly clean my phone case, laptop screens, and study materials
19. Smoothie blender
As we’re all trying to stay healthy and build up a good immune system, smoothies are the way to go. I love smoothies for the one fact that it is filling and can keep me sane throughout the day without having to worry about food.
I bought this smoothie blender in the hope of preparing delicious smoothies on my weight loss journey but never really bothered using it after 4 weeks because it was stressful. I’m definitely trying this again because why not!
20. Laundry detergents/ Bleach
Everyone needs a good wash for their clothes if you can’t afford them to be sent to the laundryman. The virus could be caught up in your clothes for up to 24 hours so a proper wash is very much needed.
Learn how to create one like this here
22. Self-care items
On the most stressful days, grab some bath bombs and diffusers and have a good self-care day
23. Water bottle
To stay hydrated and also carry some hot tea around for a better start of the day.
24. Lots of snacks
Yes, since movement is kind of restricted, you’ll need to pack your bag with a lot of snacks
25.Books and movies
Just in case you’re bored, which will definitely happen. Netflixing and chilling all the way!
26. Quick meals
Pasta, cereals, beverages, and on-the-go meals would go a long way to help in reducing your risk of getting infected as you go out to buy food. Not that much but absolutely beneficial.
Now the freebie.
Get a copy right away!
I’m wishing you all the best in advance as you head back to school.
Just stay safe and let’s beat this virus!