Frequently Asked Questions

For Student Volunteers

What is Chicago COVIDsitters?

 We are graduate and undergraduate students who want to help healthcare workers and other essential workers in the Chicagoland area and surrounding suburbs who have temporary urgent household needs while they perform essential duties during COVID-19.  

Who is organizing Chicago COVIDsitters? 

The original COVIDsitters was founded by a group of medical students from the University of Minnesota looking for ways to help our community. Chicago COVIDsitters is a sister branch ran by a group of local medical students. However, this is NOT an official activity of Ross University School of Medicine or other medical colleges in Chicago, Illinois.    

Will I be monetarily compensated for my time?

No, the healthcare families whom you serve are not expected to provide you with compensation. While we understand money may be important for students, we want to make Chicago COVIDsitters free for families of healthcare workers, because they are already working hard to care for others during COVID-19. 

What if I get paired with a family and their requests are outside of my comfort zone? 

You may always decline any particular engagement or request.  We always recommend that you communicate any discomfort with the family in a timely manner. If you think it would be helpful, please reach out to the student coordinators at or support in navigating issues. 

What will the pairings look like? 

As we expect the time needs of families to be larger than any individual student could/should manage on their own, we create small “pods” of 2-3 students that will work together to fill the scheduling needs a family in their area. After you and families fill out the intake form, we will work to create these groups based on matching characteristics and location and will send an introduction email to the family and the student group. It will then be the responsibility of the family to let the students know their time requirements and the students to coordinate to best cover the requested shifts.  

What is the time commitment needed?

Any time you are able to contribute is incredibly appreciated. There are no minimum or maximum time limits for volunteering. Please just email us at to inform us of your leave or about changing your hours of service per week.  

How long can I be expected to volunteer with Chicago CovidSitters? 

You can choose to stop volunteering with Chicago CovidSitters at any point. Currently, all healthcare families are being asked to evaluate their needs weekly during COVID-19. 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.  

Can I ask my healthcare family for their Wi-Fi password?

We understand that many colleges and universities have transitioned online and that our student volunteers may still be expected to attend and complete virtual class sessions. We encourage you to complete school assignments during your independent time at home. In the event that you require additional tools like a Wi-Fi password or other material during your volunteering shift, we expect you to communicate your needs in a clear and professional manner to your family. Please remember to respect the privacy rules of your family’s home.  

What professional behavior standards am I being held to?

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 the family’s 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 

We also expect you to log your shifts here, report any concern for possible COVID-19 symptoms or exposures to your family and to us at , and respond to any Chicago COVIDsitters emails in a timely manner.

What professional behavior standards can I expect from my healthcare family?

We expect our healthcare families to be:

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

  • Canceling volunteers shifts 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 our students’ limits and capabilities by not forcing you to perform tasks that are outside of your comfort zone

What if I think my healthcare has not engaged in professional behavior with me and/or the other student volunteers?

If you believe your healthcare family may have violated any of these professional expectations, we recommend that you communicate openly with them in a timely manner via phone, email, or video-conference. However, if you believe their behavior to be egregious in a manner that cannot be resolved with compromise, please do not hesitate to immediately contact us at . We are here to support you.

What should I be doing to limit the spread of disease?

All student volunteers should 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 must I do if I show symptoms or come into contact with someone who may be COVID-19+?

Per the CDC’s guidelines, any student volunteer who displays symptoms such as fever/cough or comes into contact with someone who may be COVID-19 is instructed to immediately go into voluntary self-isolation for 14 days. You are required to inform your healthcare family to terminate all future shifts. You must also email the Chicago CovidSitters risk mitigation team of this potential exposure at . If you remain symptom-free after 14 days, you will then be allowed to re-enter the volunteer pool if you wish. 

What must I do if someone in my family is showing symptoms or has come into contact with someone who may be COVID-19+?

Per the CDC’s guidelines, if someone in your healthcare family displays symptoms such as fever/cough or comes into contact with someone who may potentially be COVID-19, they are required to immediately go into voluntary self-isolation for 14 days or follow their employer’s public health precaution protocol. They are then required to contact their student volunteer(s) as soon as possible to terminate all future shifts. They must also email the Chicago CovidSitters risk mitigation team at . They will be removed from our request pool, and if there are no further developments, we will then be happy to include them back into our service after a minimum of 14 days!