Schools ponder post-holiday schedule changes to help slow spread of COVID-19


(NewsNation Now) — The country is just a few days away from many college students heading home for the holiday season, and some are not coming back until 2021.

Certain schools are going virtual after Thanksgiving to help slow the spread of COVID-19, while others are solely offering a myriad of tests. But no matter what your university has decided, one thing is certain and that is the fact that this year’s holiday gatherings will be a first of its kind.

“I will be going home for Thanksgiving,” said one Ohio student.

“It’s just kind of been a stressor to be here [school], so going home is going to be somewhere where we know we’re contained,” said a college student in North Carolina.

It’s certainly not your typical leadup to Thanksgiving break with college students and their families worried about more than just the spread on the table.

“If I were to give them the virus, then I’d be upset with myself,” said another student from Ohio.

COVID-19 is igniting different responses and plans of action from campuses across the country. Ohio’s recent increase resulted in the University of Akron reverting to online learning starting Monday.

“We are doing, as part of this, a lot of testing,” said University of Akron president Dr. Gary Miller. “Asymptomatic people, primarily, to get ready for them to go home for Thanksgiving.” 

Ohio State University is offering open testing beginning this week, asking students to sequester and travel home as quickly as possible once they receive negative results.

“We want to make sure that we aren’t sending infection out, and we want to protect the families that our students are going home to,” said Dr. Bill Miller with OSU’s College of Public Health.

In North Carolina, UNC deciding to have its fall semester end before Thanksgiving, so students are now oddly studying for finals in November.

“I’m probably going to get tested two or three days before I go back home for Thanksgiving,” said one UNC student. “Just to make sure I’m not putting my family at risk.”

According to the US Department of Education, there are currently about 19.7 million college students across the country. Most of whom are likely to head home to gather around the dinner table.

The CDC is not recommending travel this holiday season but advising that those who do consider celebrating only with their household. Health experts are hoping the advice sticks but acknowledging the hardship.

“It’s going to be a challenge for families because we all haven’t seen each other in months,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Nick Hysmith.

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