Staying safe during the holiday season: Online schooling and going home for the holidays

Possibly the most important thought on the minds of students at Western Carolina University at the moment, is the transition from face-to-face to online classes, scheduled to happen on Nov. 23. The second most important thought on the minds of students being going home for the holidays, and the game plan for staying safe during the year of COVID-19.

With holiday travel, though low, still occurring, the risk of students returning and COVID-19 cases rising, has been eliminated through this strategic schedule. So, how can you stay safe while traveling home and to see family this Thanksgiving, and into Christmas? Well, we all have surely heard of the Three W’s at this point. Wear a mask, wait six feet apart, and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently.

Wearing a mask may seem trivial in the presence of close family during the holidays, so if you choose not to wear a mask while visiting your family, at the very least try to follow the other two W’s, distance yourself by six feet or more, and for the love of god, wash your hands!

If students are concerned about traveling home and transmitting COVID-19 to family members, WCU is offering COVID-19 surveillance testing at Madison Hall’s yellow tent from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. until Friday, Nov. 20. For those interested, appointments can be made for testing through Health Services Patient Portal, or by calling Health Services at 828-227-7640.

After Nov. 29, students will complete final exams exclusively online from home, lessening the spread of COVID-19. While textbooks are not due back at the bookstore until Dec. 11, students planning not to return are encouraged to return what textbooks they can before leaving for Thanksgiving.

Understandably, because final exams will not be conducted until the week after Thanksgiving, students that need their textbooks for exams must ship their books back to the bookstore by the postmarked due date required by the bookstore. More information on returning textbooks can be found here. So, Cats, have a safe and great rest of the semester, and happy holidays!