Roommate Conversations — Covid-19 Discussion

As you prepare to start the school year with your roommates in your new apartment, you’ve undoubtedly communicated about all manner of things: who is bringing which furniture item? What kitchen supplies do you need and who will furnish what? How will you split the bills? Are you going to manage meals and general food purchases collectively or separately? There are a lot of details to manage … and resources to help you do so.

But the COVID-19 pandemic brings with it an entirely new set of questions and issues that you will need to address as roommates. And that is what this tool is designed for – helping you communicate with one another proactively. We are providing you with a list of questions that, while not exhaustive, will allow you to make decisions early so that you will be ready should any of you be exposed to or test positive for the virus.

Sometimes these conversations can be difficult or uncomfortable. Know that the Office of the Dean of Students is available to you to discuss how best to approach the conversation or to provide assistance if you find that there is disagreement among your apartment-mates. Feel free to contact us at 217-333-0050 to schedule a time to consult with one of our deans – we're here for you. And together, we want to foster a Community that CAREs.


Questions for Discussion

Before Getting Started …

  • Take some time to consider for yourself the questions below. Talk them through with family or close friends in advance so that you are secure in your own thoughts and feelings before you are asked to express them. Additionally, the decisions you make in your apartment may well impact your family depending on your plans for returning home at any given point in the semester.
  • Be sure to set aside at least 60-90 minutes to have the conversation. You want to make sure that you give yourselves enough time so that each person can be heard, and you can spend some time to come to some consensus around various issues.
  • It might be worth setting some ground rules (e.g., no interrupting, each person gets a turn, etc.) to help set the stage for good dialogue.
  • Make sure someone takes some notes regarding any decisions that are made moving forward. Having a record of what the group decides can help circumvent potential conflict down the road.
  • After a few weeks, gather again to re-visit your decisions and to check in on how things are going. Does anyone have any concerns? Are there any adjustments that need to be made?


  1. Do all of us have a shared understanding of how best to manage risk related to COVID-19? Do we have a shared commitment to abiding by CDC guidelines and university expectations, especially as it relates to …
    1. Face coverings?
    2. Social distancing?
    3. Engaging in social activities?
      1. To what extent do we each plan to participate in official university activities, parties, socializing in bars or restaurants, group studying, exercise and/or sports, visiting the apartments of friends, etc.?
      2. Will we commit to one another to practice recommended safety measures while engaging in these activities?
  2. How does everyone want to handle guests in the apartment?
    1. Only a certain number of “pre-approved” guests are allowed to visit?
    2. Should roommates alert others when a guest is coming over?
    3. Are there limits as to where guests are allowed in the apartment?
    4. Will guests need to wear face coverings in the apartment? Or in certain areas of the apartment?
  3. How will cleaning of shared spaces be managed (especially shared kitchens and bathrooms)?
    1. How often?
    2. What products will be used? How thoroughly will the space be cleaned?
    3. Who will do it?
  4. Given that we live in such close quarters, in the case of someone testing positive for the virus …
    1. What is each person’s plan for isolation?
      1. Return home, if possible?
      2. Remain in the apartment?
        1. What areas of the apartment would then be designated as isolation space vs. space to be used by the others?
        2. How will meals for that person be managed?
        3. How will we manage cleaning in light of a positive test?
        4. What kind of support/assistance are roommates prepared to provide the person in isolation?
    2. What is each person’s plan for getting medical care?
      1. Does everyone know one another’s emergency contact info, if needed?
  5. In the case of someone being exposed to someone with the virus …
    1. What is each person’s plan for quarantine?
      1. Return home, if possible?
      2. Remain in the apartment?
        1. Would quarantine areas need to be designated?
        2. How will meals for that person be managed?
        3. What kind of support/assistance are roommates prepared to provide the person in quarantine?
  6. Given that everyone will have some percentage of coursework that is online, what ground rules need to be established for the apartment?
    1. Quiet hours during certain times to allow individuals to focus on Zoom classes or other online delivery of coursework?
    2. Will shared spaces be used for attending online classes? Viewing online lectures? Other coursework?
    3. Are there internet connectivity or bandwidth issues that impact how many people can be online at any one time?
    4. Will there be sharing of any technology among roommates that would necessitate a schedule of some kind?