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Some students say they will dial back Thanksgiving

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Jacob Barriga
Staff Writer

With the holiday season upon us, some may be hesitant to see the number of family members they usually do because of the pandemic – and some University of La Verne students will be making sacrifices in order to stay healthy.

In an informal survey of 12 students, eight said they will celebrate Thanksgiving with their extended families, while four said they will not mingle with extended family this year out of an abundance of caution.

Whatever their plans, most La Verne students said that they will at least take some extra safety precautions during the holidays. This couldn’t be more important now, as the U.S. this week hit the grim milestone of a quarter million COVID-19 deaths, and health officials have issued new warnings about the dangers of even small indoor gatherings, as we head into the Thanksgiving holiday.

“My mom is very vulnerable, so my family is cautious,” said Stephanie Gutierrez, junior kinesiology major. “We follow the restrictions very seriously.”

Other students, likewise, said they need to be vigilant when leaving their homes because they live with relatives who are at risk for coronavirus complications.

Gutierrez said she doesn’t think it is worth it to risk the health of family members to get together during the holidays, so her immediate family is going to hole up at home, and keep in touch with relatives via FaceTime calls and social media.

Other students have had trouble when trying to get home – particularly international students, some of whom were delayed or stranded for extended periods since the start of the pandemic.

Mohammed Al Ansari, a senior international relations and global economy major from Qatar, chose to stay in the U.S. hoping for a return to campus. Now he can’t go home until December.

“I could have gone back to Qatar and seen my family, but I didn’t,” Al Ansari said. “But now it’s going to be such a hassle to get back home.”

Before he goes home, Al Ansari will have to first test negative for coronavirus and then quarantine for at least two weeks before reuniting with his family.

Still most ULV students who responded to the survey are planning for a relatively traditional holiday.

Most of their families live close by, they said, so it is easy to keep track of one another and get together while still abiding by social distancing and other safety guidelines.

“For my family, this holiday season is going to be more or less the same as most years,” Renae Loera, junior psychology major, said. “My mom is a little nervous, but she has been the whole time, and I still have to go and work.”

Loera and her family will be celebrating the holidays as they would normally, but they will sanitize and be respectful to those who choose not to show up, she said.

Some students said their families will go above and beyond to stay safe and follow health guidelines.

Bailey Grani, a junior education major, said her extended family has for months practiced social distancing and mask wearing whenever they hang out together.

“For our family the holiday season will be normal for the most part,” Grani said. “We take the precautions seriously.”

Grani said that although most people have gotten more comfortable with the situation than they were in the beginning, it is still important to her family to take all necessary precautions to stay safe.

“As long as you are aware of others and care about staying safe, it should all be okay eventually,” Loera said.

Jacob Barriga can be reached at jacob.barriga@laverne.edu.

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