Students Grapple with Decision Whether or Not to Return to Campus After Thanksgiving Break

The University of Georgia will move classes completely online following Thanksgiving break from Nov. 25-30, but the campus will remain open. This includes housing, dining and campus transit.

Even with the option to stay home following Thanksgiving, UGA freshman Connor Wooten said he wants to return to campus.

“I just want to stay with my friends a little longer because I know the Christmas Break will be long,” Wooten said.

Finals end on Dec. 17, and students will return from in-person classes on Dec. 1. The final exam period will be from Dec. 11 to Dec. 17 with a commencement scheduled to take place at Stegeman Coliseum on Dec. 18. Classes start again on Jan. 13.

Wooten lives in Russell Hall. He said he is not concerned with potential exposure to the coronavirus when he returns.

“The fact that I’ve already had it [COVID-19] makes me not really worried about coming back to campus,” Wooten said.

UGA senior Ella Luna lives on campus, and she said she will not be returning after the break.

“I really think the number of coronavirus infections is much higher than UGA is telling us,” said Luna. “I have no reason to come back, and I will absolutely not be back after Thanksgiving.”

Luna said she tested positive for coronavirus earlier this fall.

Luna reported her positive test to UGA three times before the university added her to the case count, which the school told her had to do with a system error.

UGA reported 78 positive coronavirus cases from Nov. 9-15. Despite online classes after Thanksgiving Break, Emory infectious disease expert Jay Varkey said students being together on campus following Thanksgiving travel may spread COVID-19.

Varkey warns against significant travel during the break.

If you are able to, this might be a good year to take a mulligan and limit Thanksgiving to just your household,” Varkey said.

The CDC also warns against travel.

According to the CDC website, “You may feel well and not have any symptoms, but you can still spread COVID-19 to others” while traveling.

UGA senior Jessica Martin said she will not return to campus after traveling back to Texas for Thanksgiving.

“It doesn’t make sense for me to come all the way back for online classes for two weeks to then have to make the 16-hour drive back to Texas.” Martin said. “I also don’t want to put anyone I know at risk [for COVID-19] with extra travel.”

UGA student Zahria Holmon enjoys the larger workspace and better internet access on campus. As a McWhorter dorm resident, Holmon only feels comfortable returning because of the solo bedroom in her dorm.

“I don’t have that same fear a freshman may have,” said Holmon. “If I was in Creswell, I probably wouldn’t come back, but since I have my own room I feel safe.”

Creswell Hall predominantly houses freshman students in a double bedroom with a community bathroom. These are the types of housing in other dorm halls at UGA.

Patrick Green, a freshman that lives in Creswell, feels fine coming back after Thanksgiving.

“I’ve lived here all year and been fine,” said Green. “I don’t think staying a little longer leading up to finals is going to be a risk for me.”

Green said he feels safe in the dorm due to the university’s distancing and mask guidelines. UGA said it is continuing to enforce masks on campus when social distancing of up to 6 feet is not possible.

The university offers free testing to students at Legion Field from Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. On Nov. 9, the university increased capacity to 1,000 tests per day until the site closes on Nov. 25. The site will reopen when students return on Nov. 30.

Jack Sadighian is a senior majoring in journalism in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.



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