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CDC Urges Precautions for College Students Over Thanksgiving

November 20, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday recommended against travel for the Thanksgiving holiday and said college students returning home, and their hosts, should abide by extra precautions, including wearing masks, social distancing and improving ventilation.

The new guidance -- which was issued less than a week before many colleges are sending students home -- advises that it's safest to celebrate Thanksgiving virtually or only with members of one's own household and says that students returning home from school for the holiday "should be considered part of a different household." The guidance further states that "college students who travel to visit family or friends should be thought of as overnight guests. They and their hosts, which might include their own parents, should follow all overnight guest precautions to protect themselves for the duration of the visit."

The CDC guidance includes a list of precautions for hosting overnight house guests.

Some colleges are recommending or requiring COVID-19 testing of students before they return home for Thanksgiving.

Terry Hartle, the senior vice president for government relations at the American Council on Education, does not expect the CDC's guidance to change colleges' plans.

"Last-minute guidance is usually not terribly helpful," said Hartle. "Having said that, what CDC is saying is pretty consistent with what schools have been hearing from state health departments for some time. Colleges and universities that have been planning to send students home, as most are, won’t be surprised by this."

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