As the Lehigh community nears the end of the fall semester, safety concerns about Thanksgiving plans are coming to light.
The Office of the Provost has requested that students refrain from traveling as much as possible over the break. As Thanksgiving approaches, students are weighing COVID-19 testing and quarantine plans and considering the implications of their options.
Jack Towsen, ‘24, does not plan to stay in Bethlehem for the break. He said he is excited to go home but knows he needs to take precautions.
Lehigh is offering voluntary COVID-19 exit testing for non-remote students on Nov. 17 and 18.
“Since my hometown is so close to Lehigh, quarantining for the recommended 14 days hasn’t crossed my mind,” Towsen said. “Still, when I go home for Thanksgiving, I’d be seeing my grandparents, so my parents are following this pretty closely. We can’t have anyone getting sick.”
In addition to making sure that they test negative to keep elderly family members healthy, other students are planning to get tested to give their parents peace of mind.
Tristan Moore, ‘24, said his parents suggested he gets tested and he believes this will help them feel more comfortable.
Students who plan to spend the holiday with other families see a heightened need to get tested.
“I might be spending Thanksgiving at someone else’s house or I might be going home for a small family thing,” said Nick Yang, ‘21. “I haven’t had the conversation about getting tested with my family yet, but I know they’ll want me to do it either way. My parents take this very seriously, as they should.”
Lehigh offers testing at the Health Center by appointment for symptomatic students and many local pharmacies offer testing services as well.
“If testing was explicitly offered through Lehigh, I’d take that opportunity,” Moore said.
Some students, therefore, are taking matters into their own hands and going elsewhere.
Towsen said the university should have been testing all students regularly throughout September rather than just during the first two weeks of classes. He believes random testing was effective but that it was a missed opportunity for Lehigh not to have been testing the whole time.
Moore believes, however, the Health Center has improved its practices and that it should continue with what it’s doing.
“I think Lehigh started doing a better job once testing became more frequent,” Moore said. “I’m not sure that the shutdown would have been as intense if it was like that all along, and as long as they keep it up to some extent, we should have a successful spring.”