Thanksgiving Break is coming up fast.

Now is the time to start talking to your family about holiday plans: if you are planning to stay on campus over break or if you are planning on returning home until spring semester.

If you have in-person classes or some other exception to be on campus after Thanksgiving break, it is strongly recommended that you stay here.

You should also think ahead about whether you want to return home until spring semester.

Given the current situation with COVID-19, travel should be limited and going back and forth between campus and home is strongly discouraged.  In addition, if you do not have a reason to be back on campus after Thanksgiving, please consider completing the rest of the semester at home.

If you do plan to return home for the semester, here’s four steps you should take to get ready for travel in addition to making a plan to safely return home.

1. Get Your Flu Shot

Getting your flu shot can help protect yourself and your family from getting sick.

It’s even more important to get a flu shot this year because it can help you be protected from the getting the flu.  The shot will also help maintain a healthy immune system to better combat illness when it strikes and means fewer sick days at work or school.

You can make an appointment to get a flu shot at WSU Health & Wellness Services before returning home.

Or, follow Health Services on Facebook to learn about upcoming flu-shot clinics.


2. Be Aware of the COVID-19 Situation Around You

Research caseloads in your home community and in the Winona community. Also check the WSU COVID-19 dashboard.

Currently COVID-19 cases are rising across the nation, and some communities may have travel restrictions due to high case numbers.

The number of positive cases is tied to the rate of transmission within that community. The more cases means a higher the rate of transmission – and the more risk you take on when traveling.

If a positivity rate is very high, this may indicate that the community is:

  • testing the only sickest patients who seek medical attention
  • reaching testing capacity to handle the outbreaks
  • experiencing high levels of transmission and community spread

All of these are bad signs, and you should take extra precautions when traveling — or maybe reconsider your trip all together.

A low rate of positivity in testing data can be seen as a sign that a state has sufficient testing capacity for the size of their outbreak and is testing enough of its population to make informed decisions.


3. Start Laying Low

Laying low is similar to a small self-imposed quarantine. During this time, you’ll want to limit the interactions you have with others, the duration of those interactions and the number of outings you take.

Laying low before, during, and after break directly impacts how the spring semester will go.

If we can all lay low during the holiday season and return to campus safely, this can help campus remain safe.


4. Get Tested

Before you travel to go home, it is strongly recommended that you get a COVID-19 test. Please check your airline as they may have specific requirements related to COVID-19.

Health & Wellness Services offers COVID-19 testing for people who have symptoms or have been in close contact with a confirmed case. Getting tested at WSU’s Health and Wellness Services enables us to contain, trace, and prevent the spread faster than if you were tested off campus.

If you are currently not experiencing symptoms (asymptomatic), please refer to other testing options off-campus.

If you get tested at an off-campus location, please fill out the COVID-19 Self-Report form.

Please keep in mind that your negative test result only captures a small moment in time. After being tested– whether you’re symptomatic or not—you should continue to quarantine for 14 days.

That way you can be much more confident that you are COVID-free before heading home for the holidays.

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Amy Nelson

Amy Nelson graduated in 2020 with a degree in Art: I-Design. As a student, she worked with the University Marketing & Communications team as a writer and photographer. She was hired after graduation to support public health communications during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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