As COVID-19 cases rise, students face uncertainty about coming back to campus after Thanksgiving break

All coursework will be online following the Thanksgiving break.

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Evan Berg

Second-year University student John Walczak poses for a portrait outside of Boynton Health on the Twin Cities campus. After Thanksgiving, Walczak is planning on staying home with his family for the rest of fall semester.

Evan Berg, Campus Administration Reporter

Thanksgiving break is a week away, and with it the end of in-person classes for students at the University of Minnesota.

As students decide whether to return home for the holiday and COVID-19 cases increase, questions arise about whether it is worth it to stay on campus for the rest of the semester. Boynton Health leaders are encouraging students to get tested before traveling home.

After Nov. 26, the University will be moving all coursework completely online, as announced earlier this semester.

John Walczak, a second-year student studying food science, said he is planning to stay at home with his family in Plymouth, Minnesota after the break.

“I’m planning on staying there into the end of December, into the end of this semester. But I do plan on coming back to campus if they allow us next semester,” Walczak said.

Other students, like third-year student Bronwynn Ziemann, are choosing to stay on campus after Thanksgiving.

“I’m not going home for Christmas, so this is the only time I will be able to see my family for at least the next few months,” she said in an email to the Minnesota Daily.

Ziemann said she is worried about contracting COVID-19 while traveling home for the holiday, but that there is a risk in staying on campus as well.

Fourth-year political science student Dylan Sable said he has no choice but to return to campus after Thanksgiving break.

“I’m required to live here as a CA, and I personally prefer being on campus even if I am not going to classes in person. I’ll be going home and seeing my mom, step dad, and step brother on the day of [Thanksgiving] but will be in Yudof for the remainder of break,” Sable said in an email to the Daily.

Based on increased infection rates for COVID-19 in Minnesota and the Twin Cities area specifically, representatives from Boynton said now might be the best time for students to make use of the free COVID-19 saliva testing provided the University.

“Lay low and follow all distancing and masking recommendations. Please protect yourself to protect others. Get tested before you head home,” Boynton representatives said in an email to the Daily.

According to a press release from Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s office, more than 1,000 Minnesota physicians and providers said in a letter that COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are exponentially increasing in Minnesota.

“The growth is so rapid that health care systems are pushed to the brink. Daily, there is a scramble to find ICU beds and staff, non-emergent surgeries are delayed, emergency rooms are overwhelmed, and the transfer of patients in need of life-saving care between hospitals is increasingly challenging. This is true for COVID-19 patients and patients with other conditions,” the letter read.

Around 144 University students have tested positive for COVID-19 this week, according to the University’s COVID-19 dashboard. This does not include data from testing completed outside of Boynton.

Boynton has recently increased their testing capacity in response to increased COVID-19 rates in the community.

“Anyone concerned about a COVID exposure is welcome to come get tested and they can sign up on the MyBoynton Portal. We are maintaining capacity for next day appointments and have had many same day appointments. There is no cost to students using this site,” Boynton representatives said in an email.

These services are open Monday through Friday, but will be closed for the Thanksgiving break.