The Thanksgiving long weekend comes as a relief for many students — but the pandemic brings a new wave of pros and cons to weigh before traveling home for the holiday.
The Ontario government suspended social bubbles last week, encouraging people to only interact with their household. For many students, this does not include immediate family.
London's coronavirus numbers have become relatively stable the past few weeks — and a mass exodus of students who return only a couple days later risks undoing all that progress. On the flip side, students going home to smaller towns risk bringing the virus with them, which could devastate communities with limited healthcare.
So, is it okay to go home for Thanksgiving? It depends.
It might make sense for some students to go home. The vast majority of students are being careful about the pandemic as London's mayor pointed out — they’re distancing, avoiding parties and doing everything they can to mitigate the spread of the virus.
We also shouldn’t ignore the mental health benefits seeing family can have for students. This year has been tough on everyone and asking people to isolate away from family for months on end isn’t making that any better. If a student has kept their bubble small, practiced distancing and taken precautions before traveling between locations, they face less of a risk.
The province has made it more difficult to take precautions to travel home this weekend, limiting COVID-19 testing to only symptomatic people and those who are close contacts of confirmed positive cases. These changes were only announced in the past week, meaning there wasn’t time for students to quarantine for two weeks if they originally planned on getting tested instead.
But ultimately, students need to evaluate their habits and risk tolerance and decide themselves whether traveling home is worth it.
Some students may live with roommates who are more relaxed with their adherence to guidelines. Although you might be safe, it’s important to consider the choices of those you’re in contact with before traveling home.
Transportation to and from London also poses risks if students don’t have their own car, as carpooling, trains and buses all have a greater risk of exposure.
While there is undeniable risk in heading home this holiday — every students’ situation is different and weighing the pros and cons should be up to them to determine what makes the most sense for their family.