This may be the year to stay on campus during the holidays | Norton Healthcare Louisville, Ky.

This may be the year to stay on campus during the holidays

Colleges and universities have been advised to encourage students to stay on campus through the holidays. If they must come home, here are some precautions.

Colleges and universities should actively encourage students to avoid traveling over Thanksgiving break and, instead, encourage students to livestream the November holiday gatherings with family members, the American College Health Association recently recommended.

Campuses should provide on-campus Thanksgiving dining and encourage students to celebrate in place for “Friendsgiving,” the association said.

“Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19,” said James M. Frazier, M.D., vice president, medical affairs and quality, Norton Healthcare. “Even if you don’t have symptoms, you can spread the coronavirus to others. You and anyone traveling with you, including children, can spread the virus to others for 14 days after you were exposed.”

Don’t travel if you are sick or if you have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days. Don’t travel with someone who is sick.

People entering Kentucky from states with a COVID-19 positivity rate over 15% currently are being advised to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

If you are at increased risk of severe illness, or live or work with someone who is, you should avoid in-person gatherings with people who do not live in your household, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you decide to attend an in-person gathering, avoid larger groups and consider activities that pose lower risk by allowing for social distancing, universal mask-wearing, well-ventilated indoor spaces and other steps.

Travel itself increases risk of coronavirus spread and raises the risk of students bringing the virus back to their home communities and family members. If you get infected while traveling, you can spread the virus to others when you return, even if you don’t have symptoms.

If you accept the risk to yourself and others as low

At least two weeks prior to departure

  • Get a flu shot.
  • Review any restrictions on traveling to the destination and each state’s cases for the past seven days.
  • Minimize risk of exposure and infection during the weeks leading up to departure, and reduce the number of people with whom you are in close contact prior to the trip.

Day of travel

  • Delay the trip if you are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19 and need to isolate or quarantine.
  • Reduce the number of stops on the trip. Take a direct flight if possible, and if driving, pack food/snacks to reduce the need for stops.
  • While traveling, wear a face mask over your nose and mouth. Consider adding a face shield, stay at least 6 feet away from others when possible and as far away from other passengers on public transportation.
  • Wash your hands often or carry hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol) and use it frequently.
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

After arrival

Quarantine for the first 14 days after arrival. This is especially important if there are vulnerable individuals at increased risk for severe illness in the home — also, if there is high rate of infection on campus or in the local community.

Quarantining in the home

  • Eat meals in a private space or outdoors with family at least 6 feet apart.
  • Use a separate bathroom from other family members or disinfect after each use.
  • Avoid physical contact including hugging, kissing and shaking hands.
  • Wear a mask and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet when in the presence of others.
  • Restrict movement within and outside the home.
  • If quarantine is not possible, stay physically distant from family household members, wear a face covering and avoid close contact, including hugging and shaking hands, for the first 14 days home.
  • Consider placing HEPA filter units in the home and opening windows to increase air circulation.
  • Students who are feeling anxious or hopeless or having any emotional distress should seek guidance from their primary care provider, psychologist/mental health clinician or college center.

After departure

Continue to monitor symptoms — the whole family doesn’t necessarily need to be tested after a gathering, but if anyone begins to exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, they should be tested as soon as possible. You should quarantine and consider getting tested if you’ve been within 6 feet of someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more.


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