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Pandemic rules for college kids home for holidays



How to ease the transition back home

How to ease the transition back home


The good news, of course, is students are coming home from college for Thanksgiving, and most are staying through Christmas and even into January! Parents who’ve been concerned about their kids being among Covid-19 spikes (colleges, college parties), where supervision is lax, can breathe a sigh of relief, sort of.

The less good news, of course, is that the Hudson Valley’s Covid-19 numbers are on the rise and expected to continue on that trajectory through the holidays. So yes, you’re thrilled to have the children under your roof again, but understandably stressed by everything else, and concerned your stress will negatively impact this homecoming. It need not be so.

Writing for the New York Times, Caren Osten Gerszberg offers some tips to keep safe and to lessen anxiety about these very 2020 circumstances. 

First and foremost, parents, homebound siblings, and other caregivers should realize what’s probably coming. Gerszberg quotes Dr. Julia Turovsky, a clinical psychologist in Chatham, NJ, “Rates of anxiety, depression and general malaise among my college patients have never been this bad, even compared to after 9/11.” Ouch. But that’s why they need us.

READ MORE: Kids returning home in droves

Bear in mind they’ve experienced a semester like no other in the history of college semesters. Most classes are classes online and, because of campus coronavirus surges, they have had to endure many Covid-19 restrictions, like anti-socializing regulations, fewer dining options, and limited or no access to libraries and gyms. The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors recently reported a 57-percent increase in anxiety among students and an 81-percent increase in loneliness, compared to the first four weeks of fall 2019. Once it’s safe to do, many hugs will be order.

Dr. Julia Turovsky, a clinical psychologist in Chatham, N.J. says, “Parents may need to give them time to recuperate, hibernate and rest, and not take it personally… I always encourage parents to share the burden by getting their kids additional resources, such as therapy or online support, and to maintain regularly scheduled medical appointments… The pediatrician, internist and gynecologist are good resources to screen for issues and provide guidance and recommendations, so parents should encourage their kids to set those up.”

But first, you gotta get ‘em home safe. Gerszberg says experts recommend students prep two weeks before leaving school: get a flu vaccine, avoid spending time with all but roommates or housemates, step up hand hygiene, and wear that mask. If at all possible, come home a week early, quarantine, and test after a week of self-isolating. Although it may be too late for this Thanksgiving homecoming, consider this advice when they come home in the spring.

Dr. David Rubin, a pediatrician and public health expert at the University of Pennsylvania, says, “A negative test a week out can work since 80 percent of people will develop symptoms within a week.”

 Dr. Anita Barkin, one of the co-chairs of the American College Health Association’s Covid-19 Task Force, asserts, “The best travel option is private transportation by the student or with a family member.” She’s even released guidelines for returning home that offer risk-reduction strategies for students, day-of-travel suggestions and tips for at-home quarantining.

It’s nice to know folks are looking out for us this holiday season, helping us keep things as merry as possible. Considering the alternative is continued isolation, I feel sure we can manage within the boundaries or the suggested restrictions. Good luck everyone, and Happy Thanksgiving.



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