How to safely welcome college students back home amid COVID-19 pandemic

“We need them to take responsibility just to do the simple things that can break the quick spread of this virus in your family,” Dr. Joe Thompson said.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, many families are wondering what’s the best way to safely welcome their college kids back home for the holiday break?

Dr. Joe Thompson, President and CEO of Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, said with college kids coming back there is a threat they could be packing COVID-19 along with them.

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“We know this crafty little virus is very, very infectious,” he said. 

Because it spreads so easily, Thompson said parents need to talk to their college students starting now. 

“We need them to take responsibility just to do the simple things that can break the quick spread of this virus in your family,” he said. 

So what are those simple things?

According to Thompson, students should start to self-isolate in the coming days, minimize the amount of times they go out, and stop going to bars, restaurants, or parties. 

Thompson also suggests students get a PCR test before they visit their family for the holidays.

“Know if you are positive or infected, but not symptomatic in spreading the virus. You don’t want to bring it home,” he said. 

Once they are home, Thompson advises parents to not let their kids go out to unstructured social gatherings and make sure to continue those safety protocols we’re all familiar with. 

“Keep our distance, wear a mask, and keep good hand hygiene,” he said. 

Nikki Burk is getting ready to welcome her daughter home this Wednesday.

“We will definitely have those conversations moving into the weekend. Did you wear your mask? Did you go to any parties? What type of socialization did you do?” she said. 

Burk’s daughter Bailey, who’s a freshman at the University of Arkansas, has already come back home a couple of times this fall.

“It was just trying to figure out how to keep things clean within the house,” she said. 

Burk said family time is the most important thing we can have right now and she’s looking forward to having hers back together.

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“Even if we have to sit six-feet apart we’ll do that, just so we can have that time and enjoy each other and make those memories,” she said. 

Dr. Thompson said students should travel home by car, if they can. He also suggests having Thanksgiving outside and celebrating it with just your household.