The Fairfield University community is nearing Thanksgiving break in less than two weeks. With this break comes vital information for the student body concerning COVID-19 and the possible return of students after the break. 

An email was sent out on Oct. 30 from vice president of student life, Karen Donoghue, with instructions on the necessary steps that need to be taken by those who wish to return to campus after the break, including students from hotspot areas on the Connecticut advisory guide

A link to a form, which students interested in returning to campus must have filled out by Nov. 6, was provided. It asked students to list whether they would be staying on campus for the break or leaving and returning back after the Thanksgiving break. Students returning back to campus must return on Sunday Nov. 29 between 12:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. 

There will also be mandatory COVID-19 testing provided by the University for all students once they re-enter campus. Results from this test are expected to be delivered within 48 hours, so students are expected to quarantine in their rooms unil proof of a negative test result is produced. 

Food options will be strictly “grab and go” from the Tully Dining Commons, and residence halls are expected to close for winter break on Dec. 22.

Critical information was also provided in regard to students from hotspot states, states that have shown an increase in COVID-19 cases. For those students who are going back home for Thanksgiving, they will be unable to return back to campus after the break and must continue their studies remotely, at home. An alternative was offered for students from these particular states to stay on campus during the break, which will require the form to be filled out and submitted by Nov. 6.

Students have yet another difficult decision to make thanks to the effects of the global pandemic. Caroline Mayer’22, for one, is planning on staying home after the Thanksgiving break.

“I’m deciding to stay home during the Thanksgiving break due to the growing cases of COVID-19,” said Mayer, “but I’m sad to leave because I’ll miss seeing my friends back at school.” 

One of her roommates, Caroline Magyar ’22, is planning on returning back to campus stating that, “It’s harder to focus on my schoolwork at home, and being on campus helps me to concentrate better and feel more motivated with the resources available.” 

“I really want to celebrate the holiday with my roommates,” Magyar continued. 

Maggie Silbo ’22 had similar views. 

“Last semester, during quarantine, I found it difficult to concentrate on my work and found it hard to focus with all of the distractions. On campus I’m able to concentrate better with the resources available, and I also like to work in the library, as it is a quieter space,” Silbo shared.  

Concerning the spring semester, Fairfield has not officially addressed when students will be returning to campus. Minding that the winter season could see a potential increase in COVID-19 cases, as well as the flu, the protocol for the spring semester is definitely up in the air. It seems that universities like the University of Notre Dame and Yale University are planning on having students return to campus in February. In addition, many universities have either canceled or altered their spring breaks in order to reduce travel, which could lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases. While Fairfield has not officially made any plans regarding the spring semester, it is possible that they will follow in the footsteps of other universities’ plans regarding the spring and have a later on-campus start in February. 

UPDATE: As of Nov. 13, as per an email from the Office of the Dean of Students and vice president of student life Karen Donoghue, students who go home for Thanksgiving break will no longer be able to come back to campus to finish out the Fall 2020 semester. Students who go home for break must stay home and complete the semester remotely. For students who have already requested and been approved to stay on campus during Thanksgiving break and after the holiday are still allowed to do so.

The University is also supplying exit testing for students who would like to be tested for COVID-19 prior to heading home for Thanksgiving break. Appointments are being offered for Monday Nov. 16, Tuesday Nov. 17 and Wednesday Nov. 18. Students who were tested last week during the mandatory random testing on Tuesday Nov. 10 or Wednesday Nov. 11 are not eligible to receive exit testing as they just received testing.

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