College students home for the holidays


How to safely celebrate Thanksgiving in the time of COVID-19

ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Thanksgiving is one week away. While the pandemic has changed many things for college kids, it has not changed the draw of going home for the holiday. There are some concerns that the gatherings and dinners will bring the pandemic to worse levels if people don’t come together safely.

Zac Brown with the Pat Walker Health Center said many students will be traveling home and going out of state for the holidays. He is encouraging all students to get tested before getting together with their loved ones.

He reminds students and staff that they can get tested right on campus — the rapid test can take anywhere from 15-20 mins for results and the PCR test can take up to 48 hours. With proper planning, they can know their status before heading home.

He tells us he wants students to make smart and sensible decisions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 before, during and after their travels.

“If you’re driving from Fayetteville to Dallas like many students will be doing, minimize the number of stops, pack snacks, make sure that you’re not necessarily going into stores taking more leisure time.”

Brown said students should get tested again once they come back to campus. This is a key factor to know who is sick and who needs to quarantine. He’s also urging everyone to continue to wear face coverings and to social distance.

Advanced Practitioner with Northwest Health Patricia Ellen Sheppard said that it’s very important that people keep their gatherings small. That’s because in many cases you will be in tight environments, sharing food and touching many things where germs and viruses can spread pretty quickly.

She recommends keeping Thanksgiving dinner to your immediate family but if you have someone joining the festivities from outside the household then make sure to practice social distancing, wear a mask, and wash your hands as much as possible.

“We don’t know necessarily who our aunt has been around or if she has been exposed to the virus before the gathering. You also have elderly grandparents and people with chronic illnesses and you certainly don’t want to make them sick,” said Sheppard.

Her advice, if the weather is nice take dinner or lunch outdoors. If dining inside, you can increase the ventilation by opening the windows.This year maybe do without the fancy utensils and silverware and go plastic.Try having only one person serve instead of everyone making their own plates and lots of cleaning and disinfecting. You can also have family and friends join your thanksgiving festivities virtually.

Brown said it will take everyone making a sacrifice this holiday season and strictly following the safety guidelines to make a difference.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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