By Liz Calvo
As 2020 ends and the holiday season approaches, Barry students and holiday celebraters everywhere are beginning to plan their holiday celebrations. This year, however, holiday gatherings will look different, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues at large nationwide. Barry students all have varying plans for what their holidays will look like.
For example, senior communications major Christopher Mitchelle had to cancel his flight home to Chicago due to the pandemic.
“I chose to stay at Barry until the end of the semester,” said Mitchelle. “It was a hard decision for me to make because I always attended every thanksgiving dinner with my family.”
It is this dinner that Mitchelle will miss the most, especially his grandma’s salad dressing, macaroni and cheese, jerk turkey, and vegetables.
Mitchelle’s decision to stay home was one made for his safety, considering the United States is nearing 240,000 deaths due to the Coronavirus, as of Nov. 7. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has established guidelines to ensure people’s safety as they celebrate the holidays with their families.
One of these guidelines is to stay isolated to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household poses low risk for spread while in-person gatherings pose varying levels of risks,” reads the CDC website.
Patrons who choose to travel should make sure to gather in small groups and stay six feet apart from others to avoid infection. Those planning to fly should be cautious about inflight contamination due to the lack of ventilation on airplanes.
Senior public relations and advertising student Sarah Ruiz plans to take these precautions when travelling back home to Washington D.C. for the holidays. She notes that she decided to go back home because she hasn’t seen her family since August. However, Ruiz does have some concerns about flying home due to her experience flying back to Barry at the beginning of the semester.
“Flying to campus back in August was stressful. I was so scared at first because American Airlines has done a horrible job at practicing the social distancing regulations,” said Ruiz.
Despite these worries, Ruiz still plans to fly back to Washington D.C. through American Airlines because they have the cheapest flights.
At home, Ruiz’s family will gather in a group of six, including her sister, parents, grandmother, and uncle. This gathering will follow the CDC recommendation that holiday gatherings are kept in small groups because “the more people participating in these gatherings, the greater the risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus.”
For those who plan to attend a family gathering, social distancing guidelines should be followed, and masks should be worn. Family members should wash their hands frequently to prevent further contamination. In addition, the CDC recommends hosting your holiday gatherings outdoors, as indoor gatherings pose a higher risk due to poor ventilation.
The CDC also advises people to remain aware of the regulations for holiday gatherings being put in place in their state or county.
If your holiday plans don’t include a family gathering, but instead Black Friday shopping, it is recommended by the CDC that you conduct most of your holiday shopping online. Shopping Black Friday sales in person poses a high risk for spreading the virus, since it is the busiest day of the year for many stores. Shoppers should also note that Cyber Monday is a great time to get similar deals right from the comfort of your own home.
Mitchell and Ruiz plan to do online shopping to avoid the crowds.
“I will most likely do online shopping. I think it’s safer and easier for me,” said Ruiz.
Those who just can’t resist the allure of in-store shopping should be sure to wear a mask, sanitize their hands often, and practice social distancing.
Anyone who wants to learn more about how to stay safe during the holidays should visit the CDC website for further information. Local health and safety regulations should also be monitored to ensure that students are following the rules in their state or city.