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FGCU fears holiday break will be a COVID-19 super-spreader

EN graphic by Clayton Petro.

By Nina Mendes
News & Features Editor
Students living on campus are faced with a tough decision this holiday season. They must choose whether to go home and spend Thanksgiving break with family or stay on campus to limit the spread of COVID-19.
In conversation with the local medical community, the main concern is students bringing COVID-19 back to their families.
“I would encourage some of you, if you can, to choose to skip Thanksgiving and not go home this year,” FGCU President Martin said. “I realize that’s a sacrifice, but it’s something you want to seriously consider.”
According to Martin’s Nov. 6 Protect The Nest video, FGCU is worried about asymptomatic students unknowingly exposing their families to COVID-19 during their time away from campus.
Junior Jack Donnelly has decided he will stay on campus during Thanksgiving break because his parents have pre-existing health conditions, making them more susceptible to catching the virus.
“It wasn’t easy to make this decision, but I know I have to put my family first,” Donnelly said. “ I would feel so guilty if I brought COVID-19 home to my parents without knowing it. It’s not worth the risk.”
Donnelly is a Naples native and said he still feels connected to his family because they are local. He plans to celebrate the holiday with his roommates, who are also choosing to stay on campus, in their North Lake village dorm.
Some students are planning on leaving campus to spend the holiday with friends and family back home.
Senior Megan O’Brien is willing to take the risk.
O’Brien booked her flight home to New York months ago, not knowing what the situation would look like for Thanksgiving break.
She said she is not worried about exposing her family members to the virus since she has been abiding by COVID-19 guidelines and precautions since March.
“I always go home for the holidays, so it wasn’t difficult to decide,” O’Brien said. “I don’t think it was very fair [for FGCU] to say we should stay on campus because we are given the time off to celebrate the holidays.”
FGCU is one of the universities in Florida that intends to complete a full semester with in-person, blended and online courses after Thanksgiving break.
O’Brien suggested that all classes convert to virtual delivery after the break to prevent the possibility of a rising number of COVID-19 cases upon students’ return.
However, President Martin insists that having a full semester provides the best educational experience to students, and he is confident in our capability to end the year strong.
The university will administer optional at-home COVID-19 saliva testing before and after Thanksgiving break upon student, staff and faculty requests.
Martin said, “As you think about what’s in your best interest, and your family’s best interest, you should consider whether or not this break is one worth taking.”

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