A change of plans

Local and state rules on travel and how it will impact vacation plans. Interview with students on how the pandemic might affect their ability to visit family members.

Graphic by Emma Liu ’22/Staff

If this were a normal year, during winter break many LM students would be going to spend the holidays with family members. However, due to COVID-19, travel restrictions, and rising case numbers, the whole experience has become very challenging. 

According to the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health for Mitigation Relating To Travel, Pennsylvanians must get a COVID-19 test within 72 hours before entering the state or after arriving in the state. If someone is unable to get a test, is waiting for test results, or opts to not get a test, they must quarantine for ten days after entering the state. If opting to quarantine or waiting for negative test results, people should remain at their travel location for a full ten days or quarantine for seven days if they receive a negative test after or on their fifth day of quarantine. 

Many LM students and families have been contemplating if it is worth the risk to travel or not. Junior Dori Olson states that she lives near a lot of her family so she has been able to see them while wearing masks. As for winter break, she plans on staying home and having a “few zoom calls with my extended family instead of getting together like we normally do.”

But most students do not have their extended family living nearby. For example, sophomore Levi Hancock will be missing his annual trip to Maryland where he usually goes to spend time with family over the holidays. He explained how he has not seen much of his family since the summer but does not want to put anyone at risk by visiting. Additionally, Hancock says he is usually “able to hang out with friends but can’t really do that anymore,” as safety concerns have become more evident due to COVID-19 rates rising, he has been cautious when seeing family members nearby, making sure to stay outside and socially distance. 

As for senior Charlotte Gordon, she has seen none of her non-immediate family inside. She describes sitting on the porch with her grandparents but not being able to see them as much as she normally does. Gordon expressed that she was upset that her “cousins didn’t get to stay with [her] at the beach during the summer like they usually do and [she hasn’t] even been able to meet [her] baby cousin.” She wishes that she could travel and see more people, and the only time Gordon has traveled during the pandemic was to look at a college. She was anxious but made sure to take precautions, such as wearing multiple layers of masks and sitting away from others while waiting to board.

Another student, freshman Taylor Axelrod, and her family are planning on flying to Boca Raton, Florida for winter break. Axelrod explained that originally they had planned on visiting family during the last spring break, but since COVID-19 cases and deaths were climbing, they decided not to go. Now, they are more comfortable with the idea of traveling and are expecting to make the trip. Axelrod has said that she is “a bit nervous to travel but [is] going to get tested once [she] land[s].” She described the safety precautions that she and her family will be taking, which include “wearing masks and [putting] seat covers over the seats. Once we return home we will be taking another test to check that we are all COVID-free.” 

Although many cannot travel to see their families over this winter break, many are thinking of outside-the-box ways to stay connected. It is going to be a struggle for people who choose not to travel this winter break, as they are normally surrounded by family and friends. Hopefully, everyone will be able to make the best out of this difficult situation by staying safe and enjoying the holidays.