Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away and it’s time to have “the talk” with your parents. No, not the birds and the bees talk. The COVID one. 

You and your family members may have different expectations for what you view as the safest way to spend the holidays and what you’re each comfortable with. And you should really have these conversations BEFORE traveling home. 

Last month, my mom called my sisters and me to tell us that our Thanksgiving meal would be cut down from 30 relatives to just the 5 of us. And if we wanted to have Grandma join us, we have to wear a mask the whole evening. These are the expectations for my family, but a lot of your parents may have different opinions. Some may have wanted you to quarantine 2 weeks prior to coming home while others may think it’s best for you to stay at school altogether and celebrate with your housemates. Especially if you have recently been around someone who has tested positive for COVID. 

Regardless of your situation, we’re here to help you go into the holiday season (and let’s be real, we’re not just talking about Thanksgiving. Same goes for Hanukkah, Diwali, Christmas, etc.). 

Know the Facts: If you are traveling outside of Oxford, it is a risk. Numbers across the country are on the rise – some states are beginning to close restaurants again. Be careful while traveling and try to isolate yourself so that you don’t play a part in increasing the spread.

Make a Plan: Before going home for Thanksgiving, plan out your next steps for the following two months. If you were planning to do finals from Oxford, it is not a good idea to travel home the week before. If you’re definitely heading home, you should pack enough to stay for a while. Check with your family ahead of time to make sure you will have a quiet place to take your exams.

Test, Test, Test:A great thing to do before you leave is to get tested. A negative test doesn’t guarantee that you are 100% safe (test results may be less accurate early after exposure), but it does add another layer of protection. Remember: even if you test negative before leaving campus, that doesn’t mean you won’t pick up the virus on your way home – so be extra safe this week.

Remember, it usually takes a few days to get your results back, so schedule your test with enough buffer time. Both the Walgreen and CVS in Oxford offer free COVID Testing. And Oxford Priority Care has reserved every day from Monday (11/16) through Saturday (11/21) just for Miami students to get tested. Take your Photo ID and insurance card. No appointment necessary.

Thanksgiving Safety Precautions: If you decide that you will be traveling home, consider making a few minor alterations to the holiday. If it’s possible, have your gathering outside. If you have to be inside, pick a spot with good ventilation. Open windows and turn on exhaust fans. Keep the gathering smaller.

The Georgia Institute of Technology just published a new tool where you can find your county and see what the risk level is for attending a gathering of various sizes. If you’re from Chicago, like me, my parents are probably making the right decision to swap our usual 30-person gathering (risk level in my county: 61% chance someone at a 25-person gathering is positive). That same gathering in Oxford would have a 43% chance someone would be positive. 

Tips for talking to your family about COVID safety:I’m fortunate my parents are taking COVID-19 safety precautions seriously, but that may not be the case for you. I love this article from MedicalXpress on how to navigate difficult conversations about COVID – in a way that will hopefully minimize the drama and maximize the safety. 

It may not be the typical holiday season you would want, but most important is doing what you can to keep your family – and yourself – safe and healthy.

Hannah Frier | Marketing