Thanksgiving is approaching, but the holiday is going to look different for many Americans this year. For university students traveling across state lines, there are now some extra precautions to take.
Many of the states which university students call home now have travel advisory lists because of the pandemic. The lists mandate that people coming from specific other states must follow certain steps such as quarantining or getting tested for COVID-19.
According to University President Dennis Assanis, who discussed the enrollment data for this year in a town hall, the university has a total of 17,710 enrolled students in Fall 2020. Out of this total, 11,150 students came from out of state, and 6,650 were Delawareans.
Further, a majority of university students come from Delaware’s surrounding states such as Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and Maryland. Others travel from some states further away such as Connecticut, Rhode Island or Massachusetts.
All of these states, excluding Maryland and Virginia, have travel advisory lists.
Megan Keating, a sophomore from Albany, New York, made sure to get tested twice before going home due to her father being high-risk.
“I couldn’t really go home without being negative,” Keating said.
At the time, New York State guidelines mandated that anyone visiting the state had to be tested for COVID-19 three days in advance. Travelers are also required to quarantine and take a second test on the fourth day of their quarantine in New York. They must additionally fill out a “Traveler Health Form,” which requires individuals to fill out a basic questionnaire regarding possible symptoms.
During the pandemic, the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut initially shared the same travel advisory list because of the constant interstate travel between them. This is no longer the case, due to New York’s new restrictions.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has remained strict with the travel advisory list, and has updated it regularly.
“By practicing good citizenship and complying with our travel advisory, native New Jerseyans and visitors alike can help slow the spread of this virus and save lives,” Murphy said in a statement on Sept. 8.
Delaware was on New Jersey’s travel advisory list until Nov. 4, but that does not mean it is off the list forever. Due to the fickle nature of these state’s advisories, students should stay on high alert, because it could alter their upcoming travel plans.
On Nov. 5, Director of Student Health Services, Dr. Timothy Dowling, addressed university students in an email. The statement included suggestions for students currently on campus who plan on traveling home for Thanksgiving break.
“If you plan to travel and interact with people you have not recently had close contact with, we highly encourage you to develop a plan that you and your loved ones are comfortable with to keep everyone safe,” Dowling said.
He suggested that students limit contact with others up to 14 days prior to travel and wear a mask when around others. Dowling also included that it is important to check that students don’t have any symptoms of COVID-19.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also released their own tips for the upcoming holiday. The typical traditions which surround Thanksgiving make it a high risk holiday for spreading COVID-19. In their statement, they shared activities ranging from high risk to low risk.
Low risk activities include: having a dinner only among members of the household, shopping online instead of going to crowded stores on Black Friday and viewing events such as parades and sports games on TV instead of in person.
Due to the advisory lists and restrictions put in place by many of Delaware’s surrounding states, COVID-19 testing will be necessary for many students. Leading up to Thanksgiving, there has been a high volume of students reserving spots at on-campus testing facilities. For those students who have yet to formulate a travel plan, testing may need to be found at one of the nearby off-campus testing sites.
Nearby off-campus testing sites include:
- Newark Urgent Care at 324 East Main Street Newark, DE
- Hudson State Service Center Clinic at 501 Ogletown Road Newark, DE
- Walgreens at 536 Main Street, Wilmington, DE