It’s a simple question with a complicated answer: is it safe for students to return home for the holidays after spending a semester on their college campus? And will Covid be joining them on the journey home?
The saga about the transmission of COVID-19 and the safety of students and their families is neverending. Now, with the holiday season approaching and most feeling ‘corona-ed out,’ students want to go home for the holidays and their families are on edge about what to do.
Stay or Go? That is What We Do Not Know
It is widely believed that younger individuals in good health may simply be carriers and end up unintentionally infecting older, higher-risk individuals. Therefore, students may carry the COVID-19 virus without knowing it. In that case, as students who return home for the holidays after spending the semester on campus may be a health risk to his/her 85-year-old grandmom and cousin Joe who has asthma.
But does that mean that we should all “shelter-in-place” and celebrate in our own little bubbles? Maybe, but not necessarily.
Let’s Figure This Out…
Keep in mind that every situation is unique and carries its own conditions and decision-making process and influencing factors. We all must weigh the benefits and risks and there really is no true baseline for what is right or wrong.
In this situation, we know students need family time, human interaction, and a sense of normalcy. And they also need to understand the gravity of the situation and act responsibly.
With that in mind, the decision for a student to travel home or stay on campus for the holidays should be up to the individual student and their family and assessed based on individual risks.
For example, if a student returns home, what will he/she be doing? Will the student be around elderly or high-risk family members? Is there an opportunity to be tested for COVID-19 and self-quarantine until the test results are available?
But regardless of the at-home situation, there is one big question to ask your student that may heavily influence your final decision: How has the school handled the situation?
Specifically, does the school follow strict protocols for health and safety and encourage adherence from students? The stricter a school is about maintaining the health and safety of students, the more likely students will be virus-free and practice social distancing and good hygiene when they return
In the end, there will always be a health and safety risk in every situation. The best we can all do is act as responsibly as possible and within the best interests of our families and community.
Here is something we all need to remember. COVID-19 is out there and it is going to continue to be out there until there is a vaccine. We cannot control what the virus does, but we can do our part to make this virus as easy on everyone as possible and keep parents, students, and faculty safe. For colleges and universities, “our part” refers to following guidelines, adhering to health and safety protocols, and enforcing the rules TOGETHER, as one unified community.
That’s right, we have to do this together. As in one nation united for the greater good and one community stopping the spread. That starts with our individual actions and leadership, and how we communicate the choice to not become a “superspreader” to the community as a whole.