College Students Weigh Risk of Traveling Home for Thanksgiving Amid COVID

“What we need to do is just buckle in and do the hard thing, which is not go home for Thanksgiving,” said the head of the Massachusetts Medical Society

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With Thanksgiving just weeks away and coronavirus cases spiking in Massachusetts, the Boston area's college students are weighing the risks of going home for the holiday.

At Northeastern University, students who travel are required to quarantine upon returning to campus until they get a negative test. Freshman Brad Schwamy said he still plans to go home to New Jersey.

“It’s just going to be a small gathering. I can’t wait to go home and see my family and my dog,” Schwamy said.

However, many are changing their plans as virus cases start to climb. Northeastern graduate student Michael Schwabe will be cooking his first Thanksgiving dinner in his off-campus apartment.

“I would usually be traveling to California, but I live alone so I’m just going to cook Thanksgiving dinner for myself. I’ll probably do a Zoom call or FaceTime with my family,” Schwabe said.

With Thanksgiving fast approaching and coronavirus cases on the rise, many families are debating whether to gather for the holiday, or how to do it safely. No matter what you decide, NBCLX storyteller Clark Fouraker has some tips for talking to your family about your plans, without starting a fight.

At Boston University, students who do travel home for Thanksgiving are asked to stay there and finish the rest of the semester remotely.

“I’m going home to Atlanta. My mom was like, 'You’re going to be home for two months,' and I’m like, 'Yeah, you get to hang out with me for two months,'” Boston University student Lauren Gregory said.

Dr. David Rosman, the president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, said he would advise against traveling for the holiday.

“What we need to do is just buckle in and do the hard thing, which is not go home for Thanksgiving,” Dr. Rosman said.

A mandatory mask mandate went into effect Friday, as did the state's new curfew.

He said he is particularly concerned since cases are surging among young people under the age of 30 and many of them do not get as sick.

“Let’s just imagine all of those sick people ages 30 and younger go home and visit their 60, 70 and 80 year old parents and grandparents. All of a sudden, now we have a catastrophe on our hands,” Rosman said.

The Massachusetts secretary of health and human services echoed his concern at a briefing last week.

“It’s a difficult choice, but choosing to host a virtual Thanksgiving could save a life,” Secretary Marylou Sudders said.

Boston University sent a memo encouraging students to host a “Friendsgiving,” but the dining halls will also be serving Thanksgiving dinner.

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