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This Holiday Season, Make a Plan, Take Good Care

November 16, 2021

 The following message with guidelines on how to plan for the upcoming holiday season was sent to the Drexel community.

 Summary

  • As you plan for the holidays, keep Drexel’s public health guidelines in mind.
  • If you’re attending holiday gatherings, reduce your risk by getting a COVID vaccine booster (if you’re eligible) and a flu shot, agreeing upon safety precautions in advance, and following public health guidelines like mask-wearing whenever possible.
  • If you’re traveling, be aware that there are many different requirements for safety precautions, showing proof of vaccination, and more. Plan each leg of your trip to ensure you meet all requirements before you go.
  • Visit the Response to Coronavirus site for the most up-to-date guidelines.

Dear Drexel Students and Colleagues,

The holidays are fast approaching, bringing much-needed time for relaxation and celebration. There are also more challenges than usual to navigate as you make your plans — from quarantines and proof-of-vaccination to having difficult family conversations about health and safety. Please remember that we want you to stay healthy, and we hope you will extend the same consideration to the rest of your Drexel community by following public health best practices. While COVID infection rates have been low on our campuses and in our region, unfortunately, rates are starting to rise in several states. Things are better, but risks are often higher during periods of travel and crowds.

Below are some things you should carefully consider as you make decisions about what you’ll do this holiday season.

Reduce Your Risk

Whether you’re going on the road or staying close to home, make sure you’re being as safe as possible. We want you to be able to see friends and loved ones without getting or transmitting COVID-19, and we hope the following guidelines will help.

  • If you’re eligible, get a booster shot: If you’re planning to travel or be around vulnerable loved ones, it’s important to have as much immune protection as possible. Drexel is providing free booster doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for all students and employees who qualify at our regular vaccine clinics. We anticipate more people will become eligible for booster doses soon. Learn more: Visit our vaccination information page, or read the CDC’s latest guidelines on who should get a booster shot.
  • Get a flu shot: Flu circulation was low last year, so your immune system may not be prepared for flu season. In addition, many flu symptoms mimic COVID-19; a flu shot can help minimize your chances of unnecessary worry or quarantine. You can get a flu shot through Student Health by calling 215-220-4700 or at many area pharmacies.
  • Keep taking precautions: Transmission of COVID-19 is relatively unlikely at Drexel, where most of our community is vaccinated and everyone wears masks. Outside of Drexel, fewer people will be following these precautions, making it extra important for you to be vigilant and follow public health guidelines.
  • Wear a mask: It’s especially crucial to wear a mask while you’re traveling in a shared vehicle, whether a train, a bus or an airplane. If some of your family members are unvaccinated, immunocompromised, or medically vulnerable, you may also want to talk to your family about wearing masks most of the time while you are together. Indoor events with more than a few other people — especially unvaccinated and unmasked — are still relatively high-risk for COVID transmission.
  • Talk it out in advance: If you’ll be seeing loved ones, find out what precautions everyone will be taking and who will be present. Ask questions about masks, vaccinations, indoor/outdoor events, and other safety factors if no one else has brought them up yet. Have these conversations as far in advance as possible so everyone can be prepared. Remember that traveling still poses a higher level of risk than attending a class at Drexel, and you always have the option of staying at home or taking part in virtual celebrations.
  • Practice saying no: If you don’t feel like a situation is COVID-safe, even if you feel pressure from friends or family, you are allowed to say no. Think through what your boundaries are beforehand and stick to them.
  • It’s okay to feel loss: While we all wish things were completely back to normal this holiday season, we may still have to alter our plans or take precautions that feel disappointing. It’s okay to feel sad, and counselors are available if you want to talk through feelings of grief. To schedule an appointment, students can call 215.895.1415 or email us at counseling@drexel.edu; employees and graduate students can contact Support Link 24/7 by calling 1-888-881-5462; text “SUPPORT” to 51230 or SUPPORTLINC.COM.

Plan Ahead for Travel

There are a plethora of rules and requirements to navigate this year, as well as basic safety precautions to take. If you travel, don’t get tripped up: Figure out your plans well in advance to avoid disruptions and stay safer.

  • If you’re still deciding where to go, consider a destination with lower-than-average rates of COVID-19 transmission, minimizing the chance that you will be exposed. You can see this information for U.S. counties — along with their vaccination rates — on the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker.
  • When traveling, wear a mask, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer, and keep a safe distance from other people as much as possible. If you can avoid crowded modes of transportation, try to do so.
  • Make sure you have your proof of vaccination, as it’s required for many modes of travel and increasingly at many restaurants and other venues. If you’ve lost your vaccine card, contact the organization that provided you with your vaccine in order to get a replacement. You can also get in touch with your state health department, who can mail or email you a copy of your vaccination card. It may take some time to for you to receive it, so make sure you do this a few weeks in advance at least.
  • If you’re flying or taking a bus or train, look into the rules required by your carrier as early as possible, as different operators may have different rules for passengers to follow. You may be required to take a specific type of COVID-19 test, provide proof of vaccination, or follow other procedures that require advance planning. If you’re traveling with multiple different carriers, be sure to look up the rules for each one. In addition, if you’re flying:
    • TSA currently requires all U.S. air passengers to wear a face mask at all times; check their rules well in advance as well as immediately before you fly to ensure you have the latest information.
    • If you’re traveling internationally, make sure you’ve looked into the rules of the country you’re traveling to. Many countries are currently allowing U.S. travelers entry if they provide proof of vaccination, but this is not guaranteed, and you may be required to quarantine or take a test before or after flying. Know what the requirements are and what documentation you may need to provide. You may be required to pay for testing or quarantine.
    • Make sure to build in additional time to get through airport security, especially now, when both the holidays and staffing issues will affect wait times.

We hope that you and those you love have a safe and happy holiday season, whether near or far.

Thank you, and be well,

Marla J. Gold, MD, FACP
Senior Vice Provost for Community Health and Chief Wellness Officer

Janet Cruz, MD
Director, Student Health Services