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Students prepare to travel home amid rising COVID-19 numbers

As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise across the country and hit new daily highs in Ohio, Miami University students are facing tough decisions when it comes to traveling home.

Many students will soon be departing campus to return home after classes end Nov. 20, leaving the campus bubble they’ve been living in for the past 10 weeks to once again be with their families. 

This raises multiple concerns for some students: Will they get tested before returning home? How will they get these tests? How will they stay safe while traveling?

These questions are proving to be particularly difficult for out-of-state students. Many of them have decided to return home by car, rather than plane, deeming it the safer option.

Ian Murphy, a sophomore from Virginia, was able to sum up his plan to stay safe in just a few words.

“Stop as little as possible, stay in my car, wear my mask,” he said. 

While sophomore marketing major Taylor Kamienski is focusing on staying safe while traveling, she’s also looking ahead at what she’ll need to do once she arrives home.

“I’m going to stay safe by making sure not to see my older family members right when I get home [and] quarantining a bit when I get there,” she said.

In choosing to avoid the airport, these students avoid the potential risk that can come from closer contact with people traveling across the nation, allowing them to return home in a safer manner.

But still, there are potential risks of coming home for winter break. Some students are making sure they go the extra mile to make sure they’re safe before they leave Oxford. 

Rafid Pranto, a sophomore data science and statistics major, plans to leave campus Nov. 23, and he needs to take a COVID-19 test two days before he leaves for his home in Dhaka, Bangladesh. 

Pranto previously tested positive for COVID-19 back in March. Although he worries about his own safety, his desire to remain safe while traveling home stems mostly from a desire to protect those he lives with.

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“I don’t want to endanger my family,” he said.

Pranto also said he has numerous relatives and friends who have suffered from COVID-19 and its consequences, including the death of his friend’s father, and thus, wants to be as safe as can be.

Grayson Biddle, a sophomore marketing major from Illinois, also said their family’s health is their primary concern.

“My parents are very concerned with coronavirus,” Biddle said. “My dad is 70, and there’s big concerns for him ... [Their] health is the main issue.”

Following frequent emails reminding students to stay safe in the weeks leading up to winter break, the university has also begun to offer resources to students like Pranto prior to their departure from Oxford.

Miami’s Division of Student Life shared information regarding testing on its social media accounts. On Thursday, Nov. 11, it announced Oxford’s Priority Care would be offering daily elective COVID-19 testing for students between Nov. 16 and Nov. 21 from 9-10 a.m. No appointment is necessary, and students need only their insurance card and a photo ID.

In a university-wide email sent out on Nov. 11, Miami gave students other recommendations for staying safe while traveling, including “carry a small personal sanitizing kit that includes hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and extra masks. Wear your mask at all times, wash your hands frequently, and practice physical distancing.”

Students were also advised not to travel if they have any symptoms of COVID-19 or have “tested positive for COVID-19, are waiting for results of a COVID-19 test, or have had close contact in the past 14 days with a person who has tested positive or has symptoms of COVID-19.”

Regardless of circumstance, with winter break approaching fast, it is important that out-of-state students protect their health and the health of those close to them while COVID-19 is still in the air.