How to help get your child home from college COVID-free for the holidays

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DENVER (KDVR) — As college students prepare to go home for Thanksgiving, families and universities are taking steps to try and curb the spread of COVID over the holidays.

“I think it’s a really great idea to get a test before you travel and wait for the results,” said Sarah Watamura, the COVID coordinator at the University of Denver.

Watamura says the university is not requiring tests for students before they leave for the break, but tests are encouraged and available.

DU is also using an app called Everbridge that has a daily symptom checker and technology for contact tracing.

About 70 percent of students have the app. If a person tests positive, the Everbridge app can use Bluetooth technology on users’ phones to identify those who had close contact and alert them.

“The students themselves will know that they have a potential exposure. The university can take action by ensuring those students are quarantined appropriately,” said Claudia Dent with Everbridge.

Doctors say it is important for college students to follow protocols. Dr. Michelle Barron, the senior medical director for infection prevention at UCHealth, says testing before travel is a good idea, but it is not a free pass.

“If I was at a party on Friday, I get tested Sunday, and I’m going to hang out with you and your family on Monday, I’m in that window where the tests may not pick up the virus,” Barron said.

Ideally, she said, people should quarantine for 14 days before they travel for the holiday, but for many people that’s not possible.

“It’s a little weird, but I would actually encourage, if you have college students coming home, wearing masks around them while you are interacting with them,” she said.

Barron says parents should talk to their kids now about limiting their social interactions before they come home, and about safety precautions while they are traveling.

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