After several health experts have seen a spike in COVID-19 cases amid several Halloween gatherings, there are now urging college students to either stay on campus for Thanksgiving or follow specific safety protocols in an attempt to avoid COVID-19 as the holiday season approaches and the semester ends. On September 29th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report noting an increase in COVID-19 cases from August to December among 18 and 22-year-olds at some universities and colleges that reopened in the United States. According to a New York Times survey, more than 1,700 American colleges have had more than 252,000 cases and at least 80 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
Health experts and CDC experts say that although young adults are at lower risk of death from coronavirus compared to older adults with high-risk or those with a weak immune system, they could still become ill and spread the virus to family members. According to Dr. Anita Barkin, who is the co-chair of the American College Health Association COVID-19 task force, experts encourage university students not to go home, the reason being that they know that travel can risk exposure. She noted, “So we would prefer students stay on campus and do a virtual Thanksgiving with their family.”
College Students Urged Not to Go Home for Thanksgiving
COVID-19 cases across the United States have now topped 11 million, with more than 38,000 coronavirus cases being reported at colleges since October. According to the New York Times tracker, universities and colleges are now coming up with specific game plans to minimize the spread of a virus so the students can decide to travel home. In New York, colleges of the State University of New York system announced that the students who use on-campus facilities in the public system must test negative before they travel home for the holidays. This means that 140,000 students Statewide will be required to undergo several testings prior to their departure from campus for their Thanksgiving break.
In New Orleans, Tulane University confirmed to Good Morning America that their 8,100 undergraduate students are tested two times a week and some are tested daily to avoid the spread of the virus. According to a statement, Tulane noted, “Students who test positive for or are exposed to COVID-19 prior to the Thanksgiving/Winter Recess break will be expected to quarantine or isolate within our current system. If they are able to travel home safely, either because they live locally or can go by car, we will not prevent them from leaving.”
Should Students Go Home for the Holidays?
In Notre Dame, where there were several concerns over COVID-19 after university students decided to ignore social distancing guidelines and rushed to the football field without face masks, it is ending its semester before Thanksgiving. According to the COVID-19 tracker, the college campus has over 200 COVID-19 cases but the university stated the students will need to have a negative coronavirus test result to leave campus. Excluding those who previously tested positive in the last 90 days, and those are the are able to study remotely (through Zoom), all students are scheduled for exit testing for the Fall semester starting on November 12th.
As far as Boston University’s guidelines, if the student leaves a campus then they are expected to stay where they are. In order for a student to return to campus, they must follow the same place advisory and then limit the movement on campus by quarantining for 7 days. They will also be scheduled for three COVID-19 tests during a seven-day period in one of the surveillance testing facilities.