Frequently Asked Questions

For Parents and Legal Guardians

What is Chicago COVIDsitters? 

We are students who want to help healthcare workers and other essential workers in the Chicagoland area and surrounding suburbs with urgent household needs during the coronavirus pandemic. We take care of your family’s needs while you take care of ours. 

Who is organizing Chicago COVIDsitters?

We are health professional students from Ross University School of Medicine. However, this is NOT an official activity from Ross University School of Medicine or any other medical college in Chicago, Illinois. 

Who can request help?

Any healthcare worker, including hospital cleaning crews, nurses, lab techs, cafeteria workers, or those who are working overtime to produce more surgical masks and ventilators. 

Who are the “babysitters”? 

Our volunteer babysitters are graduate and undergraduate students with ties to Chicago,IL. Many of them are healthcare and public health students. Our student volunteers are not professional childcare support. Many but not all of them are CPR-trained. You can see the student volunteer application questions here. We facilitate introductions. We do not check or confirm qualifications or background information on our volunteers. If you find yourself needing more assistance than your assigned student volunteer(s) are able to provide, please reach out to .

What ages of children can students babysit? 

We are offering services for children of ages 0-13. If you feel your child may need extra help aside from basic babysitting requirements, we ask that you communicate those needs when submitting your request form. We will work with you to find an appropriate volunteer. 

Can we combine children from different households? 

Due to health and legal precautions, we can only accommodate children from the same household (i.e. siblings, live-in relatives). 

What other services can students provide?

We can also provide grocery shopping, meal prepping, light housekeeping errands, and pharmacy runs. However, not all volunteers may feel comfortable with these tasks. Please coordinate one-on-one with your matched student volunteer to come up with an agreement. We do not accept IOU's. 

How much does this cost? 

This a free service for those who are already working hard to care for our community. Our students are made aware that this is a voluntary service on their behalf. However, if you ask your students to buy groceries or other products, please reimburse them in full for the cost of the groceries and/or products purchased.. We do not accept IOU's. 

How long can I receive childcare? 

We ask that you evaluate your needs weekly, based on your household’s changing needs. However, the leadership team of Chicago COVIDsitters reserves the right to suspend volunteer services based on family needs, volunteer capabilities, and public health precautions, among other considerations. Any decisions made to stop our service will be clearly communicated to you by email.  

Why is my student volunteer asking for my Wi-Fi password?

While many colleges and universities have transitioned online, many students are still expected to attend and complete virtual class sessions. Therefore, your student(s) may have class requirements to meet during their voluntary babysitting hours. Please respect our students’ needs as much as you can! In return, we ask our volunteers to be professional and respect the privacy rules of your home.  

What professional behavior can I expect from my student volunteer?

We expect our student volunteers to be:

  • On-time to their volunteering hours, or communicating about missing/canceling a shift ahead of time as much as possible

  • Appropriate in language and behavior, such as:

    • Not committing physical harm

    • Not committing emotional or psychological harm

  • Respectful of your home and its privacy rules, such as:

    • not exposing family information, including names, occupation, and address, to others

    • not taking or posting pictures of children and property without explicit, written parental permission that has also been communicated to Chicago COVIDsitters

    • not violating their commitment to providing a voluntary service by stealing or harassing you for compensation

If you believe your student may have violated any of these professional expectations, we recommend that you communicate openly with your assigned volunteer in a timely manner via phone, email, or video-conference. However, if you believe your student’s behavior to be egregious in a manner that cannot be resolved with compromise, please do not hesitate to immediately contact us at .

What professional behavior are my student volunteers expecting from me?

We expect our health families to be:

  • Communicating clearly and honestly about how much and what kind of help they require

  • Canceling volunteers ahead of time

  • Appropriate in language and behavior, such as

    • Not committing physical harm

    • Not committing emotional or psychological harm

    • Respectful of your volunteers’ personal boundaries and academic responsibilities

Can I receive care if myself or someone in my family works directly with patients who test positive for COVID-19?

We are still able to provide household support for families with healthcare workers who work directly with patients who are COVID-19 positive. However, we ask that you thoroughly follow PPE precautions at work, maintain public health guidelines as outlined by the CDC, and disclose this to your volunteers ahead of time. Our students are also aware that they may be asked to volunteer in a home with a healthcare worker who directly works with patients who are COVID-19 positive. 

What is Chicago COVIDsitters doing to limit the spread of disease in my household?

All student volunteers are instructed to follow the current CDC guidelines of frequent hand-washing, limited face-touching, and social isolation during and outside of volunteering. Students are not allowed to volunteer if they: have traveled to a known COVID transmission hotspot (like CA, NY, China, Italy, etc.), been in contact with someone who is known COVID-19, or had a fever or other COVID-19 related symptoms in the last 2 weeks. Each student volunteer is only assigned to one family at a time to limit cross-family exposures. Each student volunteer will document travel location, hours of service, and the people present at every volunteer shift. This will allow us to know who to contact in case of a possible exposure. If you have further questions regarding our public health policies for volunteers and families, please email .

What do I do if myself or someone in my family test positive for COVID-19? 

Per the CDC’s guidelines, if you or someone in your family tests positive for COVID-19, please immediately go into voluntary self-isolation or follow your employer’s public health precaution protocol. You are then required to contact your student volunteer(s) as soon as possible to terminate all future shifts. You must also email the Chicago COVIDsitters risk mitigation team at . . We will remove you from our request pool, and if you remain symptom-free, we will be happy to include you back into our service after a minimum of 14 days!