Nov. 9 Update from the Princeton Board of Health
Guidance for students returning home from college
Strategy 1: Should Your Student Travel at All?
- The safest way to avoid family transmission associated with returning students is to encourage students to avoid travel and remain at school, and to have a virtual Thanksgiving event with family members instead.
- Institutions will be developing quarantine and testing protocols for students who choose to go home and return to campus which may cause more disruption in the student’s life than not traveling during the holiday.
- Institutions should plan to provide on-campus meals and encourage staying in place for “Friendsgiving.” On-campus Thanksgiving dining plans should include physically distanced dining arrangements in well-ventilated or outdoor spaces with access to masks and hand sanitizer.
- Students who have recently been exposed, or who are ill, will not be able to travel at all.
- If a student is in isolation or quarantine at their school, their departure from campus should be delayed until they have been cleared for departure by health services after completing the quarantine or isolation period.
- Students who are ill with any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should not travel.
Strategy 2: If Your Student Will Travel, How Can They Do It Most Safely?
“Know Before You Go”
Your student should consider SARS-CoV-2 testing prior to their exit from campus.
A “know before you go” approach prior to travel can insure an ‘as safe as possible’ return home, especially if there are cases of COVID-19 on campus or in the surrounding community.
Students should be reminded that the test only reflects one point in time, there can be false negative results, and, in some cases, the virus may be contracted during travel.
A negative test is not a license to end other preventative measures such as mask wearing and physical distancing. Students should also consider getting tested following the completion of travel.
Student education regarding safeguards for predeparture and travel that is as safe as possible is key to the health and well-being of the student and their family members.
At least two weeks prior to departure, students should be encouraged to:
- Get an influenza vaccination.
- Review the regulations governing travel to their destination. Some states require the completion of a travelers’ form prior to arrival, along with specific restrictions and testing requirements after arrival.
- NJ requires all travelers from many states – including returning students – to self-quarantine for an extended period upon arrival in NJ
- Minimize risk of exposure and infection during the weeks leading to departure from campus.
- Reduce the number of people with whom they have close contact prior to the trip.
Day of Travel Advice for Students
- The least risky option is private transportation by yourself or your family members. If in a car with others outside the household, wear a mask and sit in the back seat if someone else is driving. If weather conditions permit, open the windows.
- Reduce the number of stops on the trip.
- Delay travel if sick or exposed. Anyone feeling ill, recently diagnosed with COVID-19 (within 10 days) or exposed to someone with COVID-19 (within 14 days) should self-isolate and delay travel.
- Take safety precautions during travel, especially if using public transportation, including use of a face covering (mask) at all times; stay at least 6 feet away from other people, if possible; carrying and use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) frequently.
- Use a disinfecting/sanitizing wipe to clean any touchable surfaces in the vehicle in which you are traveling, including planes, trains, and other forms of transportation.
Arrival at Home Advice for Students
- The most cautious approach upon arrival home is to quarantine for the first 14 days after arrival. This is especially important if there are vulnerable, higher risk individuals living in the home and/or there is high prevalence on the campus or in the local community surrounding the campus prior to leaving for home.
- Quarantining in the home includes eating meals in a private space or outdoors with family at least 6 ft apart.
- Use separate serving ware, utensils, glasses, and plates.
Use a separate bathroom from other family members. If not possible, disinfect the bathroom after each use.
- Avoid physical contact including hugging, kissing, and shaking hands.
- Wear a mask and maintain a distance of at least 6 ft when in the presence of others. o Restrict movement within and outside the home.
- If quarantine is not possible, stay physically distant from family household members, wear a face covering, and avoid close contact, including hugging and shaking hands, for the first 14 days home.
- Consider placing HEPA filter units in the home and opening windows to increase air circulation.
Returning Home Resources
- American College Health Association (ACHA) Considerations for Institutions of Higher Education as Students Return Home
- When NOT To Travel
- Travel During COVID-19
- Which states are on the NJ travel advisory list? Are there travel restrictions to or from New Jersey?
The Municipality of Princeton Board of Health
George T. DiFerdinando Jr, MD, MPH, Chair
Meredith J Hodach-Avalos, MD, MPH, Vice-Chair
Linda Schwimmer, JD, Secretary
JoAnn Hill, BSN, RN
Mona Shah, PhD
Rick Strauss, MD
Rick Weiss, MS