Amid rising COVID-19 case numbers, students plan for holiday travel

Holidays “something to look forward to” amid pandemic fatigue

Amid rising COVID-19 case numbers, students plan for holiday travel
Cherry blossoms in bloom on an empty campus.

As Thanksgiving and winter break draw closer, students are trying to navigate holiday travel amid a growing surge of coronavirus cases. 

American University is requesting that students, staff and faculty provide information about their personal travel plans for Thanksgiving break by filling out a form with the location and duration of their travel. According to the University, the goal of this is to provide members of the AU community with the latest information on travel restrictions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends limiting travel and reducing the size of gatherings. In addition, the CDC recommends limiting the number of guests and having a meal outside if you are hosting a gathering. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced new restrictions in D.C. effective Wednesday, which include limiting indoor gatherings to 10 people. 

Camryn Anderson, a senior in the School of Public Affairs, has been living in D.C. this semester and is staying in the District for Thanksgiving break. While she won’t fly to Louisiana to see her family, Anderson plans to recreate some family recipes with a small group of friends.

“For me, to get home it would require a plane trip, and that’s the last thing I want to do right now,” Anderson said. 

Some students, like Lauren Pelzner, a junior in the School of Public Affairs, are planning to travel for the week, despite the risk.

Pelzner is flying from D.C. to Connecticut to spend Thanksgiving with her grandparents. She said she plans to get a COVID-19 test at AU a few days before her flight and hopes to take every other precaution necessary. 

“I am concerned that if I'm not safe and wearing two masks and bringing hand sanitizer with me and gloves that there is an opportunity for me to get COVID and then give that to my grandparents, which would be the most devastating thing that I can do,” Pelzner said. 

Students also acknowledged that so-called “pandemic fatigue” had set in, making the holidays even more difficult. 

Kaitlyn Kelley, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, is flying from Pennsylvania to Georgia for Thanksgiving to visit family. Kelley said that this trip has given her something to look forward to.

“I feel like the pandemic has had a negative impact on my mental health. Some days I wake up and I just don't want to do anything and like having to do school and stuff is just - it's just challenging,” she said. 

Anderson said she hopes people are being mindful of the impacts that their holiday travel can have. 

“I would really urge you just to consider whether it's worth it and whether it's something that can just be postponed for hopefully a few more months, maybe longer,” Anderson said.

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