The approach of the holidays also means a homecoming for many students who have been away at college, and amid the COVID-19 pandemic making sure they can return safely is of utmost importance.
Be sure to follow your local regulations regarding travelers, whether you live in Washington, D.C., Maryland, or Virginia.
If you have children making the trip home, in addition to following local regulations, Monica L. Lypson, MD, MHPE, FACP, director of the Division of General Internal Medicine, interim director of the Division of Endocrinology and vice chair of faculty affairs for the Department of Medicine at The GW Medical Faculty Associates, offers recommendations to ensure the homecoming is a safe and happy one.
Q: Should students try to get tested on their college campus before returning home?
Lypson: Yes, if possible I would recommend making sure your children receive a COVID-19 test as close as possible to their return home. However, they also should quarantine in their dorm or off-campus apartment right after receiving the test if they won’t be returning home immediately to make sure they don’t get the virus in the interim.
Q: Will my children need to isolate themselves upon their return home, and for how long?
Lypson: If the student did not have a chance to get a COVID-19 test, or even if they did out of an abundance of caution, it would be a good idea to have them commit to isolation for about five to seven days after returning home. That means no parties, going to bars or restaurants, and limiting contact with others. It would also be good to have them get tested for COVID-19 around that same timeframe.
Q: Can my student go out of the home after the five to seven days of isolation?
Lypson: The best way to keep everyone in the community safe and make sure there’s no spread of the virus as people travel to be with family is to social distance, wear masks, and always wash your hands. Because GW MFA employees are still expected to report for work, they should consider having their children quarantine in the home, avoiding close contact with family members, and wear a mask inside the home for two weeks.
Q: What else can we do to make our home a safe environment?
Lypson: Opening windows throughout the house to allow the air to circulate, even if it’s chilly outside, is a great idea, especially with everyone home. I also recommend limiting the use of shared bathrooms and disinfecting those bathrooms after each use.