US colleges urged to conduct Covid-19 tests before Thanksgiving

Colleges and universities in seven US states have been urged to make Covid-19 testing available to all students before they leave for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

The efforts are aimed to mitigate college-related travel spreading Covid-19, Xinhua news agency quoted the Governors of New York, Massachusetts, Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania as saying in a joint statement on Wednesday.

“Any student who tests positive before they leave should be permitted to isolate on campus, or may travel safely with the approval of the local departments of health.

“Students who are already isolating or quarantining on campus must remain in place until completing their prescribed seclusion,” the statement said

In addition, the Governor have recommended that colleges and universities must complete their fall semesters by expanding remote instruction, enabling more students to learn from home for the few weeks between Thanksgiving and winter break rather than require students to travel back to campus and then back home again in December.

“Half of colleges and universities across the northeast have already indicated they will be fully remote between Thanksgiving and the end of their fall semester,” said the statement.

“Colleges and universities should prioritize on-campus programs for students who did not travel or who need in-person exams or clinical and laboratory experiences.”

New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo said that “as everyone predicted, cases are rising as temperatures drop, and New York is not immune”.

“With the holidays approaching, we are fighting ‘living room spread’ from small gatherings in private homes — and adding college students’ interstate travel will be like pouring gasoline on a fire.

“We know this virus does not respect borders, which is why governors from across the region are working together to stop the spread. Colleges and universities have to do their part by testing all students before they leave, informing them about quarantine rules, and keeping classes online between Thanksgiving and Winter Break. We beat back the Covid beast in the spring, and by working together we can do it once again this winter,” he added.

The statement further added that if colleges and universities do reopen for in-person instruction during this period, all returning students should receive Covod-19 tests and comply with relevant isolation and quarantine protocols.

The announcement came as Covid-19 cases have continued to surge nationwide.

In its latest update on Thursday, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the country’s overall death toll and caseload stood at 250,483 and 11,525,149, respectively.

The two tallies account for the world’s highest, making the US the worst-hit country by the pandemic.