Health experts worry about COVID-19 spread when college students travel for holidays

Health experts worry about COVID-19 spread when college students travel for holidays

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Thousands of college students are heading home for a Thanksgiving feast and eventually for winter breaks.

Officials with the University of Southern Indiana tell 14 News students are exhausted after a semester of getting their work done in the midst of the pandemic, so a break ahead is just what they need.

They say that several students have had to go into quarantine multiple times due to being exposed to other COVID-19 positive students, so they are hoping this break is a time for students to go home and reset.

While they want them to be able to see family, they also want them to be safe during that time so they can safely come back in February.

“You know it’s a lot to ask of an 18, 19, 20, 21-year-old, to self-isolate two weeks before they come back to school,” said Dean of Students Dr. Jennifer Hammat. “But we can say things like, don’t go to clubs, try to do new years with your family, right?”

USI officials tell 14 News that some students have opted to stay back during the break, and they will have resources for those students during that time.

Leaders with USI also say they are working with state officials to see if COVID-19 testing might be available for students when they come back to campus.

University of Evansville officials say students will either be staying on campus or heading home to be with family for Thanksgiving, but either way, in-person classes will not be resuming as they are doing fall semester finals online.

UE administrators tell 14 News they are thankful to get through this semester with relatively low COVID-19 cases.

As we reported previously, they are offering rapid coronavirus testing for students before they head home.

However, as of right now, they tell us they are not sure when students will be coming back to in-person classes.

It’s something they say is a changing situation daily, so they are constantly working on a plan.

”We’re under discussion if we can take any additional measures, if any, to bring students back to campus safely and to prevent an outbreak,” said Dr. Payal Patel-Davlatabadi, director of public health at UE. “We’ll be taking guidance from local and state departments as well when making those decisions.”

UE will be offering resources for students who are staying back during the break and hope to have a plan in place for the spring semester here soon.

UE says students who are symptom-free, have not tested positive in the last 90 days, and are leaving to return home for Thanksgiving break, qualify for the rapid testing on campus.

Health experts worry about COVID-19 spread when college students travel for holidays - Part 2

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