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Top 7 items to add to your college packing list during COVID-19

Posted 4:29 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021

At UW-La Crosse, like most college campuses, face masks are mandatory in all public spaces.

Get started early and pack in shifts, watching for deals as you go

It’s time to start packing for college and you’re wondering what to bring — especially in the climate of COVID-19. While you certainly won’t want to forget bed sheets, shower sandals and other college essentials, here is a list of items particularly important during a pandemic.  

1. Thermometer – In this environment, we all need to take personal responsibility for monitoring ourselves for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. This should be done daily and before heading out of your residence hall room. A quick temp check is an easy way to monitor your health even if you’re feeling perfectly fine. 

2. Face Masks – At UW-La Crosse, like most college campuses, face masks are expected indoors. How many do you need? We suggest a minimum of two, but you will probably want more. Think about face masks like you think about underwear when you packadvises Tori Carlson in Residence Life at UW-La Crosse. If you have a habit of letting laundry pile up, pack more masks or have a plan to wash them regularly. Check out these CDC tips on washing face masks. 

3. Headphones or earbudsRemember you have a roommate(s), so anything that involves watching lectures or videos online would best be done using headphones. You’ll want the ability to focus on what you’re working on and cancel out other noise. Along those lines, make sure your device has video and audio capabilities. 

4. Late night snacks. COVID-19 has brought changed hours of operation for dining options on campus and off If you typically need that late-night — 10 p.m. to midnight — boost of energy while studying, think through snacks and microwavable meals to bring with or pick up on campus before it gets late. 

5. Hand sanitizer. You’ll see it around campus, but you’ll also want your own. Get a big bottle and a small travel size to refill and carry with you. 

6. Household disinfectant. Bathrooms and common areas will be cleaned regularly on campus and in residence hallsbut keeping your personal space clean is also important  think of high touch areas such as desktops, tables, light switches and keyboardsSee the CDC’s recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting your space, including electronics.

7. Health insurance information — and not just the card. Get to know your plan and coverage in case you need to use it. For instance, local healthcare centers in La Crosse include Gundersen Health System and Mayo Clinic Health System. Does your insurance prefer one over the other? Is either health system in-network for your insurance? These are the main questions health center staff will ask to refer students appropriately within the community.  Also, if you've been vaccinated or plan to be, bring your vaccination card with you.

When to start packing for college 

Do it in shifts and watch for deals as you go, suggests Carlson Most students start thinking about their packing list after receiving their roommate information — typically in late July. This gives roommates a chance to connect and avoid doubling up on items. Keep in mind, residence hall rooms are not large, so good planning will allow you more space while still having everything you need. 

How to start packing for college? 

Start with what makes a place feel like home to you. That might be a four-cup coffee pot, a picture of your closest friends or a favorite blanket. Thenfill those boxes with necessities. 

Packing for college do’s and don’ts 

During COVID-19 it is especially important to avoid packing unnecessary and unwanted items.  Due to physical distancing, fewer people will be available to help you load those boxes into your new home. 

Do bring these necessities:  

  • Small microwave (1000 watts or less) 
  • Snacks 
  • One or two sets of plastic-ware (plates, forks, etc.) 
  • Sandals to wear in the shower and a shower tote to carry toiletries 
  • Pillow
  • Extra-long twin size bedding (can be found at most stores)
  • Fused power strip (surge protector)
  • Umbrella
  • One set of towels
  • Hangers
  • Laundry basket and laundry supplies
  • Alarm clock
  • If lofting a bed - furniture for under a loft (79" or less in length)
  • Social Security Card and photo ID - If you are planning on getting a job on campus you will need the original to complete I-9 forms. And you’ll need the photo ID to vote.
  • School supplies: (Besides a backpack, what other items do you need? Some ideas are: planner, stapler, pens and pencils, highlighters, notebooks, sticky notes, index cards tape, scissors and calculator.)
  • Clothing and shoes appropriate for the season you are in - rainy weather and dry. (If you will go home before winter, wait on bringing winter gear).
  • Health and grooming supplies 

You may also want: 

  • Reading lamp (bring an extra bulb) 
  • Water bottle
  • Box fan (any hall besides Eagle or Reuter) 
  • Area rug (any hall besides Eagle or Reuter)
  • Reuseable to-go containerszip lock bagspaper towels and dish soap
  • Basic kitchen equipment such as a saucepan and spoon if you envision cooking for yourself
  • Water filter pitcher – if your hall doesn’t have a water bottle filling station
  • Workout clothes and shoes
  • A basic first aid kit with bandages, antibiotic ointment packets, tweezers and pain relieving medication.   

Don’t bring  

Most students tell us they brought too much! Check the Residence Life policies to know what is not allowed. Here is a general list of items not allowed at UWL. 

  • Homemade lofts - (provided)
  • Trash can - (provided)
  • Fridge - (provided)
  • Pets - (fish are welcome)
  • Air conditioners (provided for medical needs.)
  • Space Heaters
  • Lamps with plastic shades, halogen lamps, or multiple light lamps
  • Non-UL approved electronics
  • Non-LED lights
  • Non-fused or multi-plug outlets
  • Hoverboards or electronic skateboards
  • Weapons of any kind
  • Items with the potential for an open flame (Candles with wicks, Incense to burn, fireworks/firecrackers)
  • "Food board" - Board that places weight on the built-in bookshelves
  • Items that produce wireless signals (routers, printers, etc.)
  • Adhesives for walls, furniture, doors, desk, etc. other than blue or green painter's tape
  • Items to be posted or hung on either side of residence hall windows
  • Toaster (allowed only in Reuter Hall kitchens)
  • George Foreman-type grill (allowed only in Reuter Hall kitchens) 


Questions about specific items? Email 

For a detailed listing of furnishings provided in UW-La Crosse residence hall roomsvisit your specific hall page