How college students can come home safely for Thanksgiving

Updated: Nov. 24, 2020 at 12:21 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Leaders across the state are keeping a close eye on what happens in the days after college communities send students back home.

Southern University’s last day before the Thanksgiving break is Tuesday, November 24. LSU student’s last day is Wednesday, November 25.

After that students will stay home for virtual learning until at least January. So, what should parents do to make sure their household stays safe as young adults return home?

Dr. Michael Robinson, family medicine physician with Our Lady of the Lake says parents should ask their college students several questions before they return. For example, have you had contact with someone with Coronavirus in the last 14 days? Have you been engaging in higher-risk activities such as large gatherings, parties, or going to bars? Dr. Robinson suggests the parent or homeowner ask themselves this, is someone at home higher risk from complications from Coronavirus?

Dr. Robinson says if your child answers yes to any of those questions, they might need to consider not having them come.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that families celebrate virtually this holiday season. However, if you choose to have guests, Dr. Robinson says it should be limited to the people that live with you or in your inner circle.

Dr. Robinson says there is no need for college students to isolate themselves if they have not been exposed or are not experiencing symptoms. He adds that’s why restrictions are necessary.

Kids coming home from different schools also don’t need to isolate, Dr. Robinson says, " You’re at high risk the more places that people come from, the different areas and some places might be higher risk than others so that’s something that should be factored into it. But the main thing is the behaviors of each child, whether they’ve been going to parties, wearing their mask around other people or not. That would increase the risk.”

As tough as this might sound, Dr. Robinson says your college student doesn’t technically live with you if they stay on campus during the year. Extra precautions are necessary like wearing a mask and not embracing. “It’s tough not to. Because you just don’t know they could be asymptomatic. It’s all of our responsibility to prevent the spread and it’s not just for our immediate family, but it’s to prevent each person that gets it, you increase the risk of spreading throughout the community and so that’s really a big concern.”

Health experts suggest if you have a Thanksgiving gathering, eat outside in an open environment.

By chance, if your child(ren) test positive and have nowhere else to go but home, Dr. Robinson suggests taking these precautions, “Have an area that they can literally stay to themselves. That’s where the quarantine comes in. If you can make sure they have their own bathroom, they can stay in the room. You don’t want to use the same surface or be in the same area as them.”

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