College students: Heading home for the holidays?

This graphic shows steps to take to stay as safe as possible for those college students who may be heading home for the holidays.

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and many college students are excited about coming home to see family and friends. While we know you’ve had to sacrifice many activities because of the pandemic, COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in Oregon. The safest place to be for the holiday is where you live right now.

For many students it isn’t realistic to remain on campus, and many colleges are switching to online learning after Thanksgiving.

If you intend to come home, it is important to carefully plan the visit. There are several ways to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 when returning home from college.

Before going home:

• Get a flu vaccine as soon as possible. The flu vaccine may take up to two weeks to become effective, so getting it soon will give it time to be more effective when you go home.

• Avoid contact with others, especially people you don’t share living space with at school.

• Stay in your living space as much as possible. Switch to online learning before traveling if the school allows.

• Get a test if you can but remember that a negative test result is NOT a free pass. Some COVID-19 tests produce a high percentage of false negatives, so even after a negative test, continue to follow all COVID-19 safety protocols.

• If you test positive, stay where you are and self-isolate for 10 days. Celebrate virtually with your family or see if you can reschedule holiday plans.

Getting home:

• The safest way to travel is by car and only with people you live with.

• Traveling by train or plane exposes everyone to a higher risk of infection. It’s hard to stay physically distant in crowded airports or train stations, and being on a plane or train increases the length of exposure to anyone who might be sick.

• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have more information on travel on their webpage.

After arriving at home:

• Stay physically distant from others, even those you are staying with.

• Stay in a separate room from others when you arrive at your destination.

• After returning home, quarantine for 14 days and limit your exposure to those who don’t live there, especially older adults or high-risk family members.

• Wear a face covering when unable to maintain physical distancing.

• Don’t gather socially indoors. Avoid going to bars, restaurants and parties.

• After quarantining, choose lower risk activities if you see people who you don’t live with, such as visiting folks outside where physical distance of six feet can be maintained.

• Follow all guidance for the area you where you are staying.

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