Roommate COVID-19 Talking Points

It is important that you speak to your roommates about COVID-19 and related topics, such as quarantining, social distancing, gathering expectations, and so on. The pandemic could be with us for the duration of a 1-year lease, so it is crucial to talk about with your family and potential roommates and come to an agreement before signing a lease or as soon as you are able. Write your plan down and post it where everyone can see it.

Quarantine vs Isolation

Below is a list of topics and tips to help you communicate with your roommates about COVID-19.

Questions to ask your roommate:

  1. How we will reduce the chance of spreading the virus?
    • Wearing face masks in house/public
    • Cleaning schedule and assignments of who will clean shared spaces
  2. Do you have any health concerns that could be impacted by COVID-19?
  3. Given the current situation, how financially stable are you? If you do not have a job, how will you pay rent? If you do have a job, are you able to rely on savings in case the state shuts down again?
  4. How should we handle purchasing cleaning supplies? Will we split the cost or purchase our own? How often and what do we need to have stocked at all times?
  5. How should we handle cooking?
  6. How should we handle shared spaces?
  7. What do each of us need to feel comfortable living together during the pandemic?
  8. How can we set up our space to accommodate isolation, if necessary?
  9. How should we handle visitors? Only outside? Must wear masks and wash hands? No visitors at all?
  10. How often should we check-in and revisit our COVID-19 household rules?
  11. What else do we need to talk about?

How to talk to your roommate about COVID-19:

  1. Open and empathetic dialogue is key to tackle potentially tricky conversations
  2. Try not engaging from a point of defensiveness or blame. Try to understand what’s motivating this person’s opinion when speaking to them about a potential conflicting viewpoint.
  3. Express what you are committed to keeping everyone in the household safe. Steer the conversation toward yourself and your feelings, not about them.
    Take away any potential judgment and control from the conversation by sharing your feelings. By focusing the conversation around your actions and the responsible steps that you are taking, you can empower your roommate(s) to do the same!
  4. Have the goal of your conversation be to come up with a shared plan or set of ground rules that satisfies all parties as much as possible.


UWM strongly discourages gathering with others who do not live in your household if social distancing cannot be maintained and face coverings cannot be worn.

If both you and your roommate have reached an understanding about having a gathering, please follow the COVID-19 guidelines set by your municipality, county and state. Failure to do so could result in a fine and puts those involved and those who may interact with participants afterward at risk.

  • We encourage students to hold video chat gatherings in order to comply with social distancing guidelines.
  • If you host or attend an event, make sure there are 10 or fewer people, everyone should social distance and wear masks, even if you are outside.
  • Outdoor gatherings are preferred to indoor gatherings.
  • Use facial coverings while indoors when there are others present who are from outside of your household.
  • Bring your own beverages/food (not to share).
  • Maintain six feet of physical/social distance from others who are not part of your household.
  • Wear face masks, keep distance, and sanitize frequently, whether or not participates are at risk themselves as they could infect someone who is high risk.
  • Avoid physical contact like hugs and handshakes.
  • Disinfect commonly touched surfaces, doorknobs, faucets, light switches.
  • Have hand sanitizer at convenient locations.