It is finally time for Thanksgiving break. Despite the pandemic, the University of Connecticut managed to stay functioning with in-person classes until now. We did it.
However, this is only part of the battle. The other part, which has become even more crucial now that COVID-19 cases are breaking daily records across the country, is the process of going home.
As outlined in an email from Eleanor JB Daugherty, the UConn Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, the number of COVID-19 cases within both on-campus residential and off-campus commuting student populations have been going up. This is concerning, especially now, as students are getting ready to go home.
We, at The Daily Campus, encourage all students going home for break to get a COVID-19 test and self-quarantine. This is the safest option so that students who are asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus do not spread the virus to their families and friends.
A negative COVID-19 test result, as stated by Daugherty in the email, is just “one moment in time.” A COVID-19 diagnostic test is most accurate about 5 days after exposure; if a student is in contact with someone who has tested positive, but gets tested the day after, the test will most likely show a negative result, which is misleading. Hence, it is safest for students to self-quarantine at home, which may include wearing a mask around at-risk family members, getting tested a few days after going home and having get-togethers virtually rather than in person.
As do all colleges, UConn, has a responsibility to keep students safe, especially during moments like this when students are leaving campus. In hindsight, perhaps a 14-day quarantine before Thanksgiving break — resembling the quarantine before classes started — would have been a more sure way to prevent COVID-19 from spreading when students go home. Of course, in August, it was important to implement quarantine to ensure that students did not spread the virus on campus. However, it should have been just as much a priority at the end of the on-campus portion of the semester to ensure that students do not spread the virus to their families.
Although this end-of-semester quarantine idea was not utilized this semester, it could potentially be an idea for the future. Unfortunately, the spring 2021 semester looks like it will resemble this semester as far as public safety precautions go, so this idea could potentially prevent COVID-19 from spreading to students’ families in the coming months.
As for now, it is important that students exercise caution by getting tested before and after going home. Having said that, we hope everyone stays healthy and has a great break!