What to Consider When Going Back to School During the Pandemic

As we all watch the news and check our email inboxes for the latest updates from our universities, we are still wondering: what will going back to school look like this fall? Many schools have already made their decisions about whether they will hold in-person classes or return to a virtual schedule, but that still doesn’t bring a strong sense of safety or security. Still, all students must make the best decisions for themselves. To assist you in your considerations and preparation for a return to campus (or to the virtual classroom), we’ve compiled a list of what to consider for going back to school:

Safety of your living situation

In the age of COVID-19, when we say “safety” of living situation, we mean: what is your ability to social distance and minimize use of shared spaces or living resources? If you’re living on-campus in student housing, find out what safety measures your school is taking to ensure your space is properly sanitized. If you’re living off-campus in an apartment building, talk to the management company. Aside from the obvious mask-wearing, consider how you can utilize these shared spaces or resources during times where there might be lower usage so you can maintain a safe distance from others when possible.

Safety and practicality of your classroom or study space

Similarly, safety measures will likely decrease the number of spaces where you are able to study, and how you’re able to attend in-person classes. If you’re virtual, try to find a private space in your home for studying, free of distractions. For those attending class in-person, get information from your school, as well as your individual professors, about how they will ensure you can attend class as safely as possible.

Access to healthcare and other health-related resources

We can’t talk about health and safety without also considering what your access to healthcare services will be like. Make sure you know where the closest health clinic is, as well as its hours and what services it provides. It’s important to know where and how you can get tested for COVID-19 in the event you feel you were exposed to the virus. Some schools may also require that you sign up for health insurance to attend school, so make sure you look into the best plan for your needs.

Communication with family and friends

With so much uncertainty, it’s important you’re able to stay connected and informed throughout the semester. Your school will be able to provide you with WiFi or Internet, but for all of those times you need to make a call, a text, or you venture off campus, be sure you have reliable phone service to keep your family or friends updated as to how you’re doing. Having a U.S. phone number is especially important in the event of an emergency, as it will allow you to contact your school or the services that you need. Make sure you are signed up with reliable phone service ahead of the semester so that you can be safe as soon as you step foot onto campus.

Participation in social activities

Starting school inevitably means meeting your classmates and other students, and wanting to spend time with them. Given restrictions on gatherings – which varies by state – you’ll need to be conscientious of not only the rules in your local community, but on your campus and at your school. Have honest conversations with your friends about prioritizing safety. It might seem as though things are safe in your on-campus bubble, but gathering in groups is still a risk, and you and your friends may need to rethink how you plan to come together and socialize.

Going back to school should be an exciting time. Normally, a new semester brings anxiety or stress stemming from things like the new situations you’ll encounter, adjusting to new professors, and meeting the expectations of the curriculum. However, this year, as a student, you’ll have to grapple with the unknowns and uncertainty that comes with starting the semester during a pandemic. While it certainly can be scary to think about, if you arm yourself with information and knowledge about how to keep yourself safe, you can still have a successful semester. Just remember that doing your best is sometimes enough, and that you have other students in your community that will be facing the same challenges.

10 Games to Play on Your Next Video Call

By now, we’ve all had to grow accustomed to spending time with our friends and family members virtually. Even as stay-at-home orders change and restrictions loosen, coming together online for a video call has become part of our new normal. Though our weekends might look a little different than they used to, there are still ways you can make your next video call feel more fun and engaging with a little help from technology. We’ve rounded-up 10 games you can play on your next video call:

House Party games

Have you heard of the Houseparty app? Well, now you have. The House[arty app is a video calling app that helps you connect with up to eight friends and play games. Let friends know you’re “in the house” and invite them to join you for one of House Party’s four games that work directly within the app: Chips and Guac, Head’s Up, Trivia, or Quick Draw.

Chips and Guac operates similarly to card games “Apples to Apples” or “Cards against Humanity” where you select a descriptive card to pair with a statement card. Head’s Up was popularized by Ellen DeGenerous and requires you and your teammates to describe a noun to one person, who cannot see the word. The trivia game allows everyone to answer the same questions and keeps score of who gets the most correct. And finally, Quick Draw is a version of Pictionary, where each person in the chat takes turns drawing and everyone must guess what it is.

Remote Insensitivity

Speaking of “Cards Against Humanity,” if you’d like to play this card game with your friends, there’s a virtual version called Remote Insensitivity (for copyright reasons). The creators of this game make it incredibly easy for you to share a link with your fellow game players and drag and drop card selections. Be prepared for some wildly inappropriate but laugh-inducing card combinations. You might even forget for a second that you’re playing across countries or time zones.

Card Games

Those very same creators of Remote Insensitivity also allow you to play any sort of card game virtually through their platform, PlayingCards.io, including non-card games like Checkers and Backgammon. You can play traditional card games like Crazy Eights, Cribbage, and Go Fish, among many others. Plus, you have the option to create a custom game. Who knows – maybe you’ll be inspired to create your own game!


Okay, so you might have already devised a way to play Pictionary through the use of good old-fashioned pen and paper, but let technology do some of the work for you. Skribbl.io is an online platform that facilitates this drawing and guessing game, allowing you to play with up to 12 players and create your own custom words.


Everyone’s favorite game (or is it just mine?) is now available virtually. Again, this is certainly something you can recreate with pen and paper, but the online platforms make it considerably easier to time the game and come up with categories. If you’re unfamiliar with Scattergories, it works like this: you get a list of categories and a letter. You’re then tasked with coming up with a word or term that starts with that letter for each of the categories listed in the time allotted. For more information on the rules, or to play on your next virtual call, try one of these sites: Scattegories Online or Scattergories List Generator.

Jackbox games

Jackbox has a whole collection of games that are essentially designed to be played virtually. For many of its games, all you need is for one person to own the game, share their screen, and then share their room code. You then go to jackbox.tv to enter the room code and your name, and you get access to the game you’ve chosen to play. Some personal Jackbox game favorites include: Fibbage, Quiplash, and Drawful.

Fibbage is a version of trivia where you have to fool your friends with your answer to the trivia, while still guessing the correct one. Quiplash asks participants to answer a prompt, and those participants then get to vote on the best answer. Drawful is very similar to Pictionary but with a twist: people have to submit their guesses for what the drawing is, and other players have to figure out which guess is correct. Jackbox has so many other games too, so take a look on their site for your next game.


For anyone looking for something that involves an element of mystery, might we recommend Codenames? Though this can be played as a physical board game, it’s another one that’s been converted into an online platform at horsepaste.com. To play, you must guess which words in a set are related to a hint-word given by another player. There is a bit more to it than just that, so we recommend reading the rules first, and then inviting your friends to play.


Yet another classic has made its way online and ready to be played among you and your friends, no matter where you are. Catan, or Settlers of Catan as it’s also known, is a multiplayer game where players take on the roles of settlers, to try to build and develop holdings while trading and acquiring resources. You can play this game online with friends through a variety of platforms, which you can find on the Catan website. Put your strategizing hat on and escape into this world for a while.

Fishbowl game

Fishbowl is a great party game that’s easy to play over video chat. It’s like a combination of Charades, or Taboo (if you’ve ever played), where people have to give clues to a teammate or teammates to help them guess a word or term. With Fishbowl, everyone writes down a few phrases or terms that will be guessed, and then the group is split into two teams. From there, there’s three rounds. The first round, players must use words to describe the word or phrase on the card. In the second round, players must act out or use gestures to describe the word or phrase. In round three, players can only use one word to describe the word or phrase. Head to the Fishbowl website and you can get started with your friends and family.

Actor/movie game

The “actor/movie” game requires no virtual game board — nor does it even really require video. For this game, all you need is some familiarity with actors and movies. The premise is simple: one person starts by naming a movie or an actor. If that person names a movie, the next person must name an actor from that movie; if the round starts with an actor, the next person must name a movie. Traditionally, you go around in a circle, but you’ll have to decide the order if you’re on a video chat. You continue making those connections “around the circle” without repeating an actor or movie until someone breaks the chain. There are some more rules to determine how to “challenge” someones answer, but this game can be especially fun, as with all of this time spent at home, you might be more on top of your entertainment knowledge.

How the campusSIMS Team Stays Positive While Staying Home

As more and more cities, states, and countries encourage and mandate stay-at-home orders or shelter-in-place advisories, it’s becoming more critical than ever to prioritize your health – both physical and mental. Though we certainly want to maintain strong immune systems and practice good habits like healthy eating and exercising, it’s important that we focus on our mental health as well. There is a strong mind-body connection and stress can often impact our physical health. However, by trying to practice self-care and other habits that allow us to tap into what we emotionally need, we can do our best to stay mentally healthy.

In an effort to help inspire ideas and show solidarity among others practicing social distancing, the campusSIMS is sharing what we’re doing to stay positive and prioritize our mental health during this time:

Alec, Account Manager

One of the most helpful parts for me has been connecting with friends that no longer live in the Boston area. We have been playing Settlers of Catan, but over the computer. For my physical and mental health, I have been trying to get at least 30 minutes of cardio on the stationary bike or out for a run. I’ve also been reading more too. Currently about half way through Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything, which I highly recommend.

Angela, Channel Marketing Manager

I’ve been trying to wind down every night by reading, usually under a warm blanket. I just bought a Kindle so I’ve been borrowing “digitally” from my local library (currently reading Salt: A World History). Taking some time away from my phone helps me not overly stress out from news headlines. Staying active is another way I reduce stress, and my local gym is doing a virtual challenge, so I get texts every day from my trainer with workouts I can do at home. From a social standpoint, my friends and I are also scheduling game nights and group FaceTimes so that we can virtually re-create what would normally be our in-person hang-outs.

Chris, Sales Manager

For me and my wife, we have been trying to take advantage of my wife no longer having to commute to work. This means we have about two extra hours together each day which we use to make dinner and do home workouts in the morning.

Colin, Co-Founder

I’ve been doing a whole laundry list of things: Walking, running, cooking, at-home yoga and reading.

Victoria, Lead Customer Advocate

I love makeup. I think I missed my calling to become a makeup artist. When ever I’ve been feeling “blah,” I pull out all my makeup, which I love to look at it, and decide what colors to put on. I put on music and start. Makeup is magic. Once I’m done, I feel great!

Safety, Studying, and Self-Care While Social Distancing

During these uncertain times, one thing is incredibly certain: your health and safety must be top priority. Communities are listening to health authorities and making the best decisions they can to protect the health of those who inhabit their community to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — and that includes your university. It’s important that you, as students and community members yourselves, also listen to the advice and recommendations of authorities to keep yourself safe. While we certainly are no such authority regarding COVID-19, we do want to provide support to our own campusSIMS community during this stressful time. By now, you’re likely practicing social distancing and have transitioned to online classes, so we’re offering a few suggestions on what you can do while you’re staying at home:

Know the facts and protect yourself

The United States’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can provide the most up-to-date and accurate guidance for protecting yourself and preventing the contraction of COVID-19. The most important things to know seem to be: wash your hands (often), and stay home and avoid close contact with others, especially if you are sick. Even if you are not sick, you could still contract the virus and pass it along to others, so we all need to do our part in keeping our community safe.

Resist the temptation to overdo it on eating and drinking

We know that being at home and in close proximity to snacks and drinks may invite the urge to indulge, but everyone should still try to maintain healthy habits as best as they can. Having a balanced diet is a great way to maintain a healthy immune system and stave off illnesses. However, it’s okay to have those less-than-healthy items in moderation, especially if a little indulgence provides some cheer.

Get some sleep

Another important healthy habit to preserve during this time is sleep. Even though you might be operating on an adjusted schedule with online classes (or even cancelled classes), you shouldn’t necessarily spend that time staying up late. Restful sleep allows your body to recover, and again, is a great way to boost your immune system. Avoid too many late nights, and try to limit screen time to ensure you’re getting all the rest you need.

Delineate between study space and hangout space

You might be living in limited space as you engage in social distancing, but it’s still a good idea to try to designate space for studying and doing work that’s separate from where you hangout. A great example of this is to avoid using your bed for doing work. Resist the temptation to stay in bed in your PJs and do homework. If you can, set up at a desk, or find a way to convert shared space (couches, chairs) into a more productive area. This allows you to better focus on your work and not fall behind in your course load.

Maintain structure to your day

Without the traditional commute to and from your dorm room to class, you might feel like all of the hours are blending together. We recommend creating some more structure to your day outside of class time, especially if you’re stuck in a dorm room or in limited space. Consider blocking off chunks of time for different things: an hour for lunch, an hour for studying or class prep, a half hour for self-care, etc. In doing this, you’ll break up the monotony of living and operating within a small space, and still maintain some productivity.

Subscribe to news alerts

Staying up-to-date with what’s going on in the news is important during this time period. Make sure you’re subscribed to a trustworthy news source both locally and nationally, and that you are receiving all important university emails and announcements. They will be able to relay the information you need to know to stay safe. However, you should remember that it’s okay if you need a little “break” from the news and updates sometimes. With so much information – and so much of it scary – you might want to designate a specific time to check on updates so that it doesn’t constantly feel like impending doom all the time. Preserving an optimistic outlook is not only good for self-care — it’s actually good for your health.

Practice self-care

Like we said, things are a little scary right now. As much as you need to focus on your physical health, and protect the physical health of others, you should not neglect your mental health. Uncertainty can breed anxiety, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed and nervous. Try to practice some self-care habits. There is plenty you can do while at home that allows you to focus on yourself. Meditation is a really great way to do this, whether guided through apps or by simply setting aside time to focus on your breathing. Other things you can do include: reading a book, having a cup of tea, doing yoga or a workout at-home, watching your favorite movie or TV show, calling or FaceTiming with a friend or family member. Do what you can to focus on yourself mentally and physically right now.