Four ways you can stay safe this holiday break


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by Gillian Stawiszynski

This school year, we’re all getting a much longer winter intersession than usual. Last school year, fall semester ended Dec. 20, and spring semester started Jan. 15. In contrast, this fall semester ends on Dec. 4 with spring classes beginning Jan. 25. 

In a school year before COVID-19, for many students, this long may have meant going on a vacation with friends or family they hadn’t seen in a while, going to concerts, large gatherings, and just generally living it up for few weeks of freedom in between semesters. 

This winter, it’s clearly going to be much different. While enjoying this break, we all have a responsibility to be as safe as we can. There’s a few steps we can all take to stay as safe and healthy as we can during intersession.

  1. Get tested before you visit family or friends.

If you are leaving Lexington, get tested a few days before you leave, giving you time to receive results. While waiting on these results, try to stay quarantined. You do not want to risk contracting COVID-19 after your test, rendering it useless. You can schedule an appointment at one of UK’s testing facilities. Remember, if you test positive, you will receive a call from the UK Health Corps team. If your test is negative, you will receive an email.

After classes end, the UK testing facilities will close. However, community testing sites will still be open—one is located near Kroger Field at 1505 College Way and the other at Eastern State Hospital at 1350 Bull Lea Road.

  1. When you go home, quarantine for two weeks.

As eager as you may be to unwind and do the things you love as soon as you leave campus, keep these activities limited to where you’re staying for at least two weeks. These days, airports are more dangerous than ever. With large groups gathering to get on their plane, and being in close quarters with the rest of the passengers for the duration of your flight, quarantining after you reach your destination is absolutely necessary. 

  1. When seeing loved ones, do so in small groups.

We all miss our friends and family, but keeping them, ourselves and others safe is more important right now than the risk of seeing everyone you’d like to see. Then again, we always have public parks and outdoor areas in which we can social distance with masks, while still going out and seeing people who bring us joy. Unsafe two- or three-hour hangouts will never be worth the possibility of death.

  1. Don’t vacation like you normally would.

I know it may be tempting during this break to take a trip to the Carribean islands, or to a big city like New York, Los Angeles or Chicago. If you are not from these places, you probably shouldn’t stroll in, especially to areas where you could unknowingly spread COVID-19 or contract it and bring it back to Lexington, like many UK students did in Miami and other popular spring break cities.

If you still want to take a vacation with people who have already been tested, Airbnbs are a good way to stay relatively quarantined while enjoying a different location, as long as they’re a close drive. Camping in Kentucky’s beautiful Red River Gorge or a spot in Berea is always an option, too.

This year has been treacherous for everyone on this Earth. For Lexington in particular, just like in the beginning of the year, we have circled back to being a red zone for COVID-19 cases. Let’s all be more vigilant. Whether you are staying on campus, staying in Lexington or going home to see family, we must not lose sight of the looming mortality the virus is holding over us all. We must not forget to stay safe; just because we get a break from the University of Kentucky, we still have quite a few responsibilities by which we should abide. Let us not forget we are living through a pandemic.  

This winter break, instead of partaking in high-risk activities, practice more self-care, start hobbies you’ve been wanting to start, learn sign language, start running or start cooking holiday dishes and donate them to your local homeless shelter. We are restricted for our safety’s sake,  but we still have more than a month off from courses. Better your relationship with your inner self and community instead of focusing on what you could be doing if it weren’t for COVID-19.

Stay safe, mask up, and enjoy winter break!