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College students traveling home for the holidays are at a high risk of spreading COVID-19, experts say

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BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Usually, when students go home for the holidays they have a few things on their mind, good food, family, and friends.

But this year, the first thing on many people’s minds is the coronavirus pandemic.

Health officials say college students traveling home for the holiday break are at a high risk of spreading COVID-19. Many universities, including LSU, plan to ramp up safety precautions and cancel all in-person classes and tests after the fall holiday until next semester.

Last week, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards reminded families that as frustrating as this time is, this is not the time to stop following the guidance.

“Please make sure that you are cognizant of all of these challenges and plan something that’s going to be safe,” Edwards said.

Many out-of-town students say their families are concerned that when they come home they may get the rest of their family sick.

“My dad said I can’t come back in the house until I get tested,” Sierra Vanderhorst said. “My grandparents will be there but we try to keep our distance, still no hugs or kisses,” Trey Chatters said.

While others say not much is changing from last year.

“[My friends and I] are really excited to see each other and hang out with a little less pandemic rules and everything,” Brielle Bradley said.

Doctors say students going home are not considered part of the household and should wear masks at home and continue social distancing.

“Families that have had the unfortunate experience of knowing this virus up close will tell you that the temporary joy of bringing people together is oftentimes not worth the potential permanent consequences,” Dr. Joseph Kanter with Louisiana’s Assistant Secretary of Public Health said.

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