WC should require COVID-19 testing for travelers this Thanksgiving

By Lucy Verlaque
Elm Staff Writer

Thanksgiving break is approaching, and many of us are looking forward to going home for the extended weekend and visiting with our families. However, with the Delta variant on the rise, COVID-19 remains an obstacle for those of us traveling home.

Many students will be exposed to different people and environments over the break, which increases the possibility of COVID-19 transmission on campus upon their return.

With this added risk in mind, it would seem logical to require students who leave campus for the break to get tested for the virus upon their return.

Washington College students were not required to undergo any sort of COVID-19 testing upon returning from travel over fall break, and it seems as though Thanksgiving break travel will be handled the same way.

While it is up for consideration, the College has not yet confirmed whether students who return to campus after this break will be required to provide proof of negative COVID-19 results.

According to the WC Contingency Planning Group’s Nov. 12 update, it is suggested that students “be diligent in following standard safety practices during any holiday travel, and remain cautious about [their] activities during the break.”

These are sound recommendations, but they do little to hold students accountable for safe pandemic practices once they leave campus.

However, the College has had a strong response to COVID-19 concerns throughout the semester. According to WC’s website, 90% of the WC community is vaccinated.

In the CPG’s Oct. 29 update, the group reported that WC’s students have “gone 6 weeks with no new [COVID-19] cases.”

statistics are encouraging, but they do not excuse us from continuing to be safe. In order for our campus to remain COVID-19-free, we must stay diligent in our efforts to prevent the spread of the virus.

It is important that the College carries out a testing regimen for students arriving back on campus to ensure a safe return from Thanksgiving break.

It is necessary that we do all we can to protect the health of those who are immunocompromised or unvaccinated on campus and in the local community. Furthermore, we cannot ignore the possibility, while unlikely, of a vaccinated individual catching the virus and unknowingly infecting others.

Providing COVID-19 tests after the break will ensure that students and faculty are healthy and can safely resume in-person classes. In the event that anyone caught the virus while traveling, mandatory testing would make us aware of cases and allow us to take steps to prevent the infection of others.

Across the nation, other colleges are taking such preventative measures.

Schools such as Saint Michael’s College, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and George Mason University are requiring students who travel over the break to get tested before coming back to their campuses.

According to GMU’s Executive Director of Safety and Emergency Management David A. Farris, the purpose of this testing regimen is to “identify and prevent the spread of COVID on campus,” as well as “to mitigate the transmission of COVID from our campus to our community.”

WC should follow in these schools’ footsteps to provide an extra sense of security for students, staff, and faculty.

During these uncertain times, our community’s safety should be our main priority. Requiring COVID-19 tests for those who travel during Thanksgiving Break will ensure that our community is safe and allow us to finish off the semester strong.

Photo by Olivia Dorsey
Featured Photo Caption: Although COVID-19 testing is available for students by appointment at the Roy Kirby, Jr. Stadium, testing is not required.

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