Students warned to be COVID-conscious during Thanksgiving break

As students prepare to head home for Thanksgiving, universities are taking steps to keep young people from spreading COVID-19. Some schools are requiring mandatory exit tests while others are having students finish out the year online.

Thanksgiving is just over two weeks away and millions of college students plan to head home. Health experts are worried.

"They tend to be asymptomatic which means they don't really have any symptoms, but they can still be contagious," explained University of South Florida professor of public health Dr. Jay Wolfson.

Right now, Dr. Wolfson says 18 to 40-year-olds are contracting the virus at the fastest rate here in the Bay Area.

"They are the ones who tend to go out and have a good time off-campus," Wolfson said.

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Saturday, Notre Dame students stormed the field in the overtime win against top-ranked Clemson. It prompted the school to implement mandatory testing for students before they leave.

If a student tests positive, they must quarantine on campus for two weeks. If they don't, the schools say they won't be able to register for classes. They're strict rules but Dr. Wolfson says they could be critical in preventing the spread.

"The rule here is be safe rather than sorry. We miss our families tremendously and we want to hug people and hold on to them, but give them the elbow instead of the kiss," Wolfson said.

In the Bay Area, neither the University of Tampa nor USF students will be required to do exit testing. However, they will not return to campus, completing courses online for the remainder of the semester.

"Because we know less about this disease than we know and we're learning about new things every day and most of those things are not very good things. Air on the side of caution. Protect your parents. Protect your grandparents. Protect your aunts and uncles," Wolfson said.

Based on the data locally, Dr. Wolfson says we can expect to see a spike in cases in the second week of January. He says Thanksgiving and traveling will surely contribute to that.