COVID-19 safety tips for college students heading home

Posted at 11:50 AM, Nov 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-18 12:02:38-05

CLEVELAND CLINIC - As college students prepare for Thanksgiving break– extra precautions should be taken to protect loved ones at home.

Joseph Khabbaza, MD, of Cleveland Clinic, said students attending classes in-person, may fall into a higher risk category of being carriers of COVID-19.

“Anyone who’s in full-time school, that’s going to be a bit higher risk,” he said. “I think part of the challenges of school-age children and young adults in college is that they tend to be ones that are going to be minimally symptomatic, if they are infected with COVID-19.”

To reduce the potential of unknowingly spreading coronavirus, students should limit social activities seven to 14 days before going home. They should also be on the lookout for COVID-19 symptoms, like fever, cough and body aches. When symptoms are present, travel should be avoided. If COVID-19 testing is offered at school, it’s a good idea for students to get tested a few days before they leave for break and if they’re positive, stay put.

While traveling, a face mask, social distancing and frequent hand washing is recommended.

Once they arrive, students who have not been able to isolate before returning home should wear a mask indoors, especially around loved ones who are elderly or have a compromised immune system.

“That’s a tough sell to wear a mask at family gatherings, or perhaps in your own home, but it’s really an extra precaution to protect the most vulnerable,” said Dr. Khabbaza.

Experts also advise college students to have a separate bedroom and bathroom, while home for break, to further reduce virus transmission risk.