Colleges send students home for Thanksgiving at the worst possible time

Less than a week is left before Thanksgiving, the finish line for many colleges’ personal terms. If there were ever dividing lines between campuses and the rest of America – any effective, unspoken sanitary cords, which keeps coronavirus infections semi-isolated among students – they will be broken now that thousands of students are going home for the holidays.

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, infectious experts have warned that the winter will be bad, even though the United States got the virus under control during the summer, which did not happen. Based on this warning, many institutions decided last spring to finish their fall conditions earlyjust before Thanksgiving. It turns out that the timing may not have been early enough.

In many institutions, the warning lights flash red. By Thomas University in Minnesota and the United States University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, students’ positive tests have risen to new heights, with the latter institution reporting three times as many new positive cases in the week ending November 12 as in any previous reporting period. Contact trams at St. Thomas, The University of Pittsburgh, that University of Tennessee at Knoxvilleand other colleges have found that Halloween parties triggered new outbursts – poor timing for Thanksgiving migrations.

Federal authorities have also taken note: In a condition report dated Nov. 15, the White House Coronavirus Task Force wrote that Missouri college students “let their guards down with a Thanksgiving break less than a week away.”

Some institutions have managed to contain the virus. Cornell University, Duke University and the University of California at San Diego have seen about 1 percent of their enrollments test positive throughout the semester, according to data collected by That New York Times. Many colleges that hope to avoid exporting infections offer free coronavirus testing to students before they travel, and a few, such as the State University of New York system, require testing.

To a certain extent, however, it does not matter how good an institution has been at keeping infection rates low. Students coming from environments with lower transmission may pose a lower risk to their families, but with the virus rising nationwide, even these students can still get it on the way. Taken together, high prices at some colleges plus the exposure that all American travelers now face means that college students could contribute to new outbreaks across the country, just as they did by returns to some campuses for the fall.

“Do I know how big it will be? I do not know, but I do know that it has some of the classic ear-splitting ear tags, ”said A. David Paltiel, a professor of public health at Yale University. “It will cause these students to mingle with many different populations in the country’s transportation hubs and mingle across generations at dining tables where someone has brought Grandma from the nursing home or her nursing home.

In particular, young adults are more likely to have no idea that they are carrying coronavirus because they have no symptoms. At Duke, a little over half of the positive cases identified by monitoring tests were asymptomatic. But that doesn’t mean they can’t spread the virus to others who may develop far worse cases.

American College Health Association has submitted guidelines to minimize the risks of students and their families on holiday trips. They include several layered precautions: getting a flu shot; do not attend gatherings before leaving campus; wearing a mask, social distance and washing hands often during travel with shared transport are tested both before and after the trip, if possible and then, after all, quarantined for 14 days on arrival despite any negative tests, because a test may not detect the virus if the infection was recent.

It is unclear how many college students follow most or all of these recommendations, or are even capable of it. What if your college does not offer free exit testing? What if you do not have your own bedroom and bathroom to quarantine?

College Health Group recommendations includes ideas for when a strict quarantine is impossible. At the institutional level, colleges can adopt policies that make it easier and more likely for students to do the right thing. Anita Barkin, co-chair of the group’s task force Covid-19, said she had been consulted by the growing number of institutions that will end their semesters online after Thanksgiving. It will eliminate the double whammy by getting students to travel before the holidays and then possibly bring the virus back to campus. A trip is plenty.

Spoken in the balancing act by negotiating the travel risk is the fact that transmission of the virus has never been higher. Things skyrocketing. On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged Americans not to travel to Thanksgiving, days after governors of California, Oregon and Washington made the same recommendation, and almost a month after Governor of Massachusetts did it.

In August, Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said said that the country had to get new cases down to 10,000 a day before the fall, or “we’re getting a really bad situation.” Daily matters are now over 150,000.

So health officials around the country are urging Americans to try something a little different this year so as not to combine households if possible (a student coming home from college counts to be from another household) and think of alternative ways to celebrate. It’s probably just a temporary victim, “cancel Thanksgiving“The argument goes. Promising vaccine news means there is a light at the end of the tunnel, a few months away.

In a call with reporters last week discussing recommendations for the winter break, Keri N. Althoff, an associate professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, said she would not visit family members outside her household this year.

But for a student who has gone to college during an fall semester on campus, it may not be an option to take the advice that every other American hears. Many colleges lack the resources to provide services to a large portion of their student bodies throughout the winter break. For those staying on campus – for example, international students facing travel restrictions or begging their families to be put off – it can be a lonely and anxious winter.

Unfortunately, the traditional schedules of residential colleges randomly feel into the impending perfect storm and release their students, just as the pandemic enters its darkest phase yet, to return home.


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