Governors want colleges to test students before Thanksgiving break


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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office announced Thursday that a coalition of governors from the northeast are pushing their colleges to test more ahead of Thanksgiving. The announcement says that the summit of political leaders resulted in a multistate college travel agreement.

“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,” Cuomo said. “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.” 

They’re encouraging the schools to ramp up testing before students leave for Thanksgiving vacation, and recommending expanded remote instruction to end the semester. According to the Office of the Governor, they also recommend limits on all travel for the holiday, urging residential schools to reduce the need to cross state lines.

Any student testing positive will be encouraged to quarantine on campus before engaging in community spread back home. The governors also recommended colleges to make sure students know about quarantine rules, not only in the states where they’re enrolled, but in their home state, too.

The governors say they want residents to have small celebrations at home this year. Besides Cuomo, the coalition includes:

  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy
  • Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont
  • Delaware Gov. John Carney
  • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf
  • Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo
  • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker

“The region is experiencing a surge in COVID cases and a surge in the serious health impacts this disease brings with it. Working together on travel and higher education policies like these, states can have a bigger impact on COVID spread as students travel for the holidays,” said Gov. Baker. “Gathering with friends and family significantly increases the risk of spreading the virus and while testing and isolation guidelines can help slow the spread, it is up to everyone to wear a mask and avoid gathering indoors with people outside of your household.”

Roughly half of colleges and universities in the region have already indicated that they will shift to fully remote after Thanksgiving. The governors said that schools ought to prioritize on-campus programs for those students who will not travel or who need in-person teaching.

“It is our collective responsibility to protect our communities and our most vulnerable from COVID-19 and to continue to work together to get through this pandemic,” said Gov. Wolf. “These targeted mitigation efforts, combined with existing ones, are paramount to decreasing the spread of COVID-19. We need everyone to be united in wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and washing our hands in order to save lives and help protect our economies.” 

The governors said that colleges and universities that reopen in-person between Thanksgiving break and the end of term should provide COVID screenings for students returning to campus, and that the students should quarantine as appropriate.

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