COVID Homecoming: How Parents of College Kids Should Handle Thanksgiving Break

Thousands of college students are coming home for the holidays. Along with piles of laundry, many of them will bring COVID-19. The holiday homecomings are occurring at a time of unprecedented viral spread. To prepare and mitigate exposure, experts are advising both schools and parents to take precautions

While some colleges have sent students home prematurely amid outbreaks, others like Boston University are encouraging students to stay on campus for Thanksgiving. If they do travel back home, they're advised to stay there and finish the rest of the semester online. 

Students who do travel home should quarantine for 14-days, experts say, making as little contact with others as possible. Complete quarantine isn’t possible for students who bunk with mom and dad, but they can decrease risk by wearing masks, keeping a distance of 6 feet or more, using separate bathrooms if possible, and frequently washing hands. Needless to say, this is no time to bring a boyfriend or girlfriend home to meet the family.

Most experts also recommend students get a COVID test. They aren’t foolproof. To increase reliability, students should test twice: once before they get to their destination and again after they arrive.

Much depends on the status of community spread in the area students are coming from. Parents and children should be aware of the positivity rates in the town where the college is located. If rates are above 5%, that’s an area of high risk and it warrants additional precautions. It's probably best to Zoom with the kids over turkey this year.

All these considerations can put a damper on the holiday, no doubt. But a cautious Thanksgiving can help prevent a Christmas or Chaunukkah in the ICU. Act wisely.