Most students look forward to the rest and relaxation they achieve during the holiday season, along with quality time spent with family and fun vacations they often have. However, with the current rise of COVID-19 numbers and the quick approach of winter break, many have questioned if it is still safe to spend the holidays with your extended family this year.
Traveling over winter break can be done safely if students are responsible about following the COVID-19 guidelines in the state they are in and taking the appropriate precautions when they return home.
For those who travel to a state that has a COVID-19 positivity rate of over 15% statewide, the Ohio Department of Health suggests that they quarantine for 14 days upon arrival back in Ohio, and the school requires the same wait as well. Currently, there are 13 states on this list, according to the ODH. If a student follows the correct protocol and quarantines for 14 days after arriving back in Ohio from one of these states, they’ll be able to prevent spreading coronavirus throughout the community, and they will still be able to attend school from afar.
The risk of spreading or contracting coronavirus during winter break is significantly decreased if students follow the COVID-19 guidelines, such as wearing a mask and social distancing, when they are travelling. Students should also try to be with only their immediate family and keep gatherings small so that the risk of a family member spreading coronavirus is decreased. Furthermore, students can significantly reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus if they immediately quarantine themselves when they exhibit any symptoms, whether that be before or after traveling. Cautions can and should be taken during holiday visits to make sure that students are not endangering themselves, their family or their community.
Many argue that the use of air travel to visit families during the holiday season poses a big risk of spreading coronavirus country wide. However, most airlines and airports are taking many precautions and have many new guidelines to prevent this spread. Delta Airlines blocks off the middle seats or any adjacent seats in their aircrafts so that people are properly separated on their flights, making it less likely to contract the disease. Delta also requires a mask be worn the entire time, including in the airport and on the plane, with the air in the planes is circulated every two to six minutes, according to Delta Airlines. After each flight, the crew also sprays down the entire interior as well as wipes down any high-touch areas. These precautions will help prevent the virus from being spread both from surfaces and through the air and make it safer to be on a plane.
These upcoming holidays are often spent with family, and it is nice for students to have a moment of normalcy among all the recent chaos. Especially considering the increased stress from school, traveling can give students a much needed break. If all the correct steps are taken, traveling can be done safely and give students a break from these stressful times.
After a challenging fall semester of hybrid learning and high stress, we would all love to get out of Bexley, even for just a little bit. The last couple months of the year mark the winter holiday season, a time usually filled with joy, happiness and spending time with those we care about. However, this year, students should refrain from traveling and having large gatherings with family to avoid putting lives at risk because of the coronavirus.
The number of cases and deaths caused by the coronavirus has been on the rise recently. Ohio has only just reopened businesses and schools in the past several months, but we could be headed toward another lockdown because of the dangerous spike in cases that will only be increased by holiday travel.
Airports have been open for a while, some at full capacity and others at partial capacity, but they still are a place where the virus is more likely to spread to large groups of people. According to the TSA website, there are about one million passengers daily, with that number climbing as more people plan to travel for the holiday season. This steady flow of people is only going to increase the amount of germs circulating throughout the airport, with no real break to fully clean and sanitize. Even if everyone wears their mask, which is still not likely, it could be very challenging to properly social distance from the hundreds of people surrounding you.
Some might argue that fewer people will travel this year because of recommendations from states and cities to remain at home, so it will be easier to adhere to safety protocol when flying. However, people have already disregarded guidelines from authorities, and the number of people traveling this holiday season will only increase as people are compelled to travel. Many will want to be with their family members, who they haven’t seen in months, and are going to take the opportunity to reconnect with their loved ones. However, the possibility of endangering a loved one or a community is not worth the risk of a weekend with the extended family.
As an alternative to flying, some families are planning to drive to their families homes to be safer and avoid large groups of people. However, many of these people are traveling with young children and plan on staying in a hotel during their trip. Even before the virus, hotels were not known for being the cleanest places, and according to Forbes, the average hotel door handle has 918 times more germs than a household toilet seat. The greater number of guests during the holidays will only increase the amount of germs, and the cleaning staff will be unable to properly sanitize every room after a person has used it. In addition to the risk that not all guests will be wearing masks and social distancing, hotels are not a safe alternative to staying home.
As the coronavirus cases continue to rise in Ohio, Bexley students need to consider staying home during the winter season to prevent spreading the disease. Airports and hotels should be avoided because of the hundreds of people who cycle in and out daily, spreading germs without even knowing it. Staying home is a pivotal being a considerate member of your community and helping keep others safe.
Freshman Iris Frost
“No. It will only put them and their family at risk, as well as the people around them. If the school continues hybrid learning, then students will be faced with the challenge of going to school with peers that might have exposed themselves while traveling.”
Sophomore Bridget O’Reilly
“No. I don’t think it’s safe to travel if you are getting on a plane or if you are going to be around a bunch of other people. Just because of everything that’s going on, if you got exposed but didn’t know, then it could spread through the whole school really quickly.”
Junior Pierce Grossman
“Yes. Airlines are taking proper precautions in order to ensure passengers’ safety, such as mandating masks, thorough cleaning and social distancing measures. Lots of places have measures for quarantining upon arrival and or returning home, which will help limit spread if exposed.”
Senior Will Fletcher
“No. I think it isn’t safe, especially because it’s peak season for COVID and sickness in general. It’s a lot safer to try and focus on small group activities with family and friends. It’s not worth the risk at this point in time because of the extreme nature of the disease and because of the spike in cases, especially when they are close to a vaccine.”
Math teacher Melissa McCreary
“Yes. If you can socially distance and wear your mask, then I think it’s okay. If you are going to take the precautions that you are being told to take, then you can keep yourself healthy. I understand that sometimes mental health is important too, so it may be important to get away for a little while as long as you follow the rules.”