Bringing College Students Home for Safe Holidays

College students are heading home for the holidays, and most won’t return to campus until at least the start of the spring semester. As numbers of Covid-19 cases are expected to spike even higher this winter, many universities may be requiring students to finish out the academic year remotely. With visits home likely to be extended, health experts are recommending safeguards to keep your entire family safe this holiday and beyond.

Quoted from “Rebecca Lee Smith, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, says young adults should receive two negative tests four days apart, while self-quarantining or avoiding unnecessary exposure, before heading back to their families.”

Traveling home safely

With little time left before the holidays, the best way to travel is enlisting a family member to drive your student home. If your child decides to ride home with another student, they should both wear masks and keep the windows cracked open. Taking a bus, train, or airplane? Have them avoid crowds, sit by themselves whenever possible, and don’t take off their mask.

While infection can take as long as 14 days to develop, 80 percent of people show symptoms within a week. If your child arrives home early, you might consider quarantining them from other household members for a few days. Monitor them for symptoms and get them tested again if needed.

Making the holidays happy as well as safe

Adjusting to the pandemic has been a challenge for many students, and family holidays can be stressful even in the best of times. Now, more than ever, make an effort to steer clear of explosive arguments or hot topics. Relaxing some house rules and easing up on discipline can go a long way. How important is keeping a bedroom tidy or putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher when you are asking your child to make significant sacrifices around socializing?

Spend time together and listen to your student’s concerns. Having an open conversation around the challenges facing your family is important.

Negotiating house rules

Parents may have to be prepared to negotiate house rules on socializing. Allow your child to express their opinion. They may have come home expecting to see friends or visit their favorite home-town hangouts.

Decide whether you are comfortable having their school friends over to your home. How large should the gathering be? Should everyone get tested first? Make decisions with your child about house rules. You may determine you want visitors to wear masks inside while maintaining social distancing. Can your college student accept these rules? If you are reluctant to open your home, keep in mind that outdoor meetings are safer – maybe even in the garage with the garage door open!

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