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.

The campusSIMS Team’s Tips for Working from Home

The pandemic has caused a lot of change in our lives – everything from how we venture to the grocery store to how we learn and take classes to how we see our friends. For most people, one of the biggest changes has been in how they work. For the campusSIMS team, we’ve been working from home since before the pandemic, and to help those who are newly graduated, or starting a summer job or internship, our team wanted to share how we stay productive and focused while working remotely.

Colin, Co-Founder

For me, it’s all about the actual work space: Get a comfortable chair, and an extra monitor. Limit distractions in that work space. Treat your home office like you would a physical office space. I like to keep structured hours, and the same morning routine. I recommend always working from your desk.

Chris, Sales Manager

It is worth setting up a home office if you have the space. Being able to close the door and feel like I have just arrived at work helps to put me in the right mindset.

Alec, Account Manager

I find it important to have one place that is just for work that also has a second monitor, if possible. I try not to stay inside all day though and make sure I go outside every day. I’ve even made drinking my coffee outside in the morning part of my routine. And you might be surprised, but being active at least once a day can really boost your productivity, so I incorporate that into my routine as well.

Victoria, Lead Customer Advocate

Comfy clothes is a must! I also love having my favorite drink (iced vanilla chai tea) and take frequent breaks with some happy music playing the background (current song obsession, Roses Remix by Imanbek) with an impromptu dance or two to keep energy levels up!

Angela, Channel Marketing Manager

Taking breaks during the day is so important and I often use my calendar to ensure that I step away from my laptop for a little while, whether for lunch, a workout, or a walk.

When in work mode, I sometimes need a little help in starting a task, so I’ll utilize the Pomodoro Method, which is when you work in 25 minute intervals with five minute breaks in between. It’s much less intimidating to commit to 25 focused minutes than to think about focusing for an entire work day. Sometimes, I get into a groove and work beyond the 25 minutes, but other times, I really need that break.

Scott, VP Channel Development

Moving around to a new location (deck, kitchen, etc.) provides a nice change of pace sometimes.

The most important thing to remember about working from home: find a way to stay productive that works for you! Each of our team members takes a different approach, but we’ve all established routines and methods to working from home that help us stay motivated and productive.

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!