Will college students traveling for Thanksgiving cause virus uptick? New state guidance aims to prevent spread

Here's how some local college students are approaching Thanksgiving travel

BOSTON — Several college students will be going across the country for Thanksgiving.

“I was going to go get tested right now,” said Northeastern student Emily Caplan. “I’m getting tested again Friday just because I was doing my every three-day schedule and then I’m doing two on Friday just because I’m leaving Saturday for Tennessee.”

Some going home don’t have as far to travel such as Northeastern student Anya Anya from Worcester.

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“I actually plan on going home tonight or tomorrow morning,” said Anya. “I just finished my COVID test. They recommend the moment right before you leave take a test, get the negative back, and then once you get the negative you’re good to go, once you come back the same process.”

“If possible residential colleges should also offer COVID-19 tests to students who live off-campus who plan to return home,” said Gov. Charlie Baker.

New guidance from the Regional Coalition of Northeast Governors aims to mitigate what could be multiple COVID-19 spreading events at dinner tables across the country including recently traveled college students.

“A lot of people are going to travel and there’s not much at this point we can do other than saying we think that’s not a great idea and to urge people if they do that, to recognize and understand that a test is not you know a Teflon vest,” said Gov. Baker. “Okay, it’s just a moment in time.”

The governors are asking any student who tests positive before they leave to isolate on campus, or travel with their local health department’s approval.

“God forbid I wouldn’t be able to see them and I would just stay here,” said Anya.

Northeastern specifically asks students to share their travel plans by completing online forms. However, the fear governors and contact tracers have is what if students who test positive don’t tell the truth about who they’ve been around just to make it easier for their friends to travel.

Here's how some local college students are approaching Thanksgiving travel

“You would be hurting yourself and other people by not telling stuff like that,” said Anya. “But at the same time, part of me low-key wouldn’t put it past a few people here and there.”

Some students saying younger and homesick students are more likely to not tell the full truth.

“I would trust upperclassman,” said Caplan. “I feel bad for freshman and sophomore students. They have to be on campus they cannot go back and forth, that’s really hard if you are a freshman and you are homesick.”

Caplan says by and large most students know better and will tell the truth. But as with anything, there will always be a select few who for whatever reason will not, maybe they already bought a ticket, maybe they just want to get some turkey.

Still, those are the select few the governors fear could make us see an after Thanksgiving uptick, similar to what Canada saw after their October Thanksgiving.

Part of the governor’s recommendations to colleges and universities is to expand remote instruction to finish the fall semesters. There are some teachers who of course won’t want to do that. They will want students in person for final exams, but some students say their teachers have already told them to be prepared to go virtual after Thanksgiving.

“They don’t want students coming in their classrooms,” said Caplan. “All of my professors after Thanksgiving stuff is TBD.”

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