Written by Kylie Allen
Taking precautions and not gathering in large groups is a new Thanksgiving tradition many adopted for the holiday season. Families took these steps in order to protect their loved ones who are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and prevent the spread throughout the holidays. As students traveled back to their homes to be with family, many have expressed concern about unknowingly spreading or contracting the virus.
Senior Mike Zeringue said his family’s activities would be socially distanced and, for the most part, take place outdoors to minimize any risk to older members of the family.
“Our gathering will be abbreviated to prevent a greater risk of exposure, but many members of my family have been quarantining in advance to prepare for gathering for the holidays,” Zeringue said.
While some families took time to quarantine in preparation for a normal holiday, other families decided to celebrate with only their immediate family to stop the spread of COVID-19. Senior Gabe DeSambourg said, though his family usually travels for the holidays, they chose to stay home without the fear of spreading the coronavirus.
“We will probably do a Zoom call with the family we usually see in New Orleans for Thanksgiving,” DeSambourg said. “That’s the plan for now at least, hopefully we don’t get Covid in the meantime.”
As campus wrapped up the in-person portion of the semester, it left students who had been labeled as “close contacts” unsure of what to do next. Senior Christian Erickson said he chose to quarantine in Searcy after becoming a close contact.
“My roommate [tested positive], and I [didn’t] want to go home and spread anything to my family,” Erickson said. “They [did] a normal Thanksgiving and FaceTime[d] me for a little bit during the meal.”
Junior Deanna Hutson stayed in Searcy during Thanksgiving because of COVID-19 concerns. She said deciding to stay was difficult, but she was thankful she had technology to spend time with her family before they were physically together again. In the meantime, Hutson said the Harding family took care of her well.
“One of the dorm moms brought me some of their Thanksgiving lunch — and so did one of my friends and one of my teachers,” Hutson said. “And I had countless faculty reaching out to me to see if I needed anything throughout the week. It was a little tough being away from my biological family, but I am so grateful for my Harding family that stepped in to fill the gap.”