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Tips to keep family safe as college students head home for the holidays

The University of Maine system will test thousands of students this week before they head home for the holidays

MAINE, Maine — College students who took in-person classes this semester are preparing to head home for the upcoming holiday season.

While many families are excited to have their students back home with them, many are also worried and anxious about the possibility of them bringing the coronavirus home with them. 

"We have experienced over a thousand cases just in the last two weeks alone," says Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah during Friday's CDC briefing.

Benjamin Willertz says his family here in Maine will host a smaller Thanksgiving dinner due to the ongoing pandemic.

"Our family is definitely trying to take it as seriously as possible. My family does have a little bit of history of lung issues and so we are taking that into consideration," says Willertz.

Thanksgiving break marks the end of in-person classes for students within the University of Maine system. Students will finish their fall semesters online to avoid having a spike in cases if they were to return.

"Well we knew that thousands of students would be traveling for Thanksgiving, and we didn't want to be responsible for transporting the virus back into the state," says Dannel Malloy, the University of Maine System chancellor.

"It's definitely a risk and obviously my parents and family are worried about it too because they don't know who I'm coming in contact with and who they've been in contact with and so on," says UMaine student Jillian Ramsey.

Malloy says the University of Maine system will test thousands of students this week. "It will consist of upwards of 8,000 tests for all of our residential students and students we identify as leaving the state to go home," says Malloy.

"I'm going to be taking full advantage of the testing they are providing us, just to be as safe as possible," says Willertz.

UMaine student Jacob Taukee says his family is in Kansas City, Missouri. Taukee plans to fly home for the holidays. He has been following all the CDC guidelines to make sure he stays safe and keeps his family members in Missouri safe too. Taukee adds the holiday celebrations will look different in his house this year.

"Having a small thanksgiving dinner. Not a lot of outside family is going to be up at all so it's going to be different but we are excited to take part in the holiday," says Taukee.

Some precautions any college student can take before heading home:

  • Quarantine for 14 days
  • Get tested
  • Limit your social activities
  • Wear a mask at all times
  • Social-distance between friends and family

Here is a letter from UMaine system chancellor Dannel Malloy on a safe return this holiday season.

Bowdoin College is giving each student a KN95 mask as well as some guidance for travel and for once they reach their destination. "This focus on health and safety follows a semester during which students were tested twice a week," says Doug Cook, Director of College and Media Relations at Bowdoin College.

"As soon as depart we are giving them a K-N95 mask as well as more surgical masks if they wanted for their travel home so we do hope that with being able to be flexible in how we schedule their tests, that they will be able to get their negative test result shortly, when they are supposed to leave," says Mike Ranen, COVID-19 response coordinator at Bowdoin College.

Students at Bowdoin will complete the fall semester remotely.