Some Wayne State University students are deciding to celebrate the holidays at home this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The safest way to celebrate the holidays is to celebrate at home with people who live with you, said Campus Health Center Chief Nursing Officer Dr. Toni Grant. Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Normally my family will get together and have a big Christmas celebration, but we’re all deciding to stay home,” said Cardina Toombs, a pre-nursing senior at WSU. “Instead, I do plan on just giving my friends and family gifts, but I plan on just dropping them off instead of actually having to spend Christmas Day with them and having to be all up in their faces.”
Nahla Hamilton, criminal justice sophomore, said she is not seeing her family this holiday season either and is doing most of her shopping online.
“We usually have like a Christmas gathering with either my friends or my family but I can’t do either this year,” Hamilton said. “The holiday shopping online, I don't really mind that, I actually prefer it because places aren't as crowded because I'm at home.”
Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household, who are consistently taking measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, poses the lowest risk for spread, Grant said. Your household is anyone who currently lives and shares common spaces in your housing unit, which includes family members, as well as roommates or people who are unrelated to you.
Keeping this in mind, Toombs said she is considering Facetiming her grandmother who lives in a senior living facility.
“Students who are living on campus must remind their parents that they are considered a different household and in-person gatherings that bring family members or friends from different households pose varying levels of risk,” Grant said. “Wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands frequently.”
People with COVID-19 or exposed to the virus in the last 14 days and people at increased risk for severe illness should not attend in-person holiday gatherings, Grant said.
The CHC is offering seven days a week COVID-19 testing at various locations around the WSU campus to monitor any increases in COVID-19 cases on campus, Grant said.
“I continue to be amazed by, and grateful for, the commitment, adaptability and resilience of our campus community,” said WSU President M. Roy Wilson in an email to the campus community on Dec. 22. “Each of you plays an important role, and I greatly appreciate everything you do to make Wayne State a great university — especially during a pandemic.”
Emily Cranston, a communications senior at WSU, said she celebrates many different holidays since her husband is Muslim. They normally go to her side of the family for Christmas, but this year they are going to be at home.
“We're just going to meet with my family via Zoom call,” Cranston said. “I’m just gonna make us some holiday inspired cocktails, and just cook all day long and just spend time together. That's all I really had planned.
Due to the pandemic, many holiday customs have been put on hold this year.
“All the traditions that we do involve the rest of my family so, unfortunately, we won't be doing them this year,” Cranston said. “I like it this way to be honest… family can be a bit overwhelming.”
However, some traditions are still being celebrated. Hamilton said she plans on going down to see the Christmas tree and other Christmas lights in Beacon Park on Grand River Ave.
Nour Rahal is news editor at The South End. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bethany Owens is a contributing writer for The South End. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Cover photo provided by Cardina Toombs.