Do I Stay, or Do I Go?: Students Decide on Plans for Thanksgiving

After spending an unusual semester at the University of Florida, students are in need of a break. Luckily, the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday offers them the chance to relax, to spend time with family and to eat their favorite foods. 

Students have classes off from Nov. 25 to Nov. 27, giving them a chance to relax before entering the final stretch of the semester. 

With the upcoming holiday, however, comes another choice: Will students return to UF’s campus, or will they finish the rest of the semester from their homes? 

While the student body has mixed feelings about virtual learning, its flexibility does give them the opportunity to choose where they will finish their semester. 

Due to concerns about rising COVID-19 cases, UF’s website states professors “are encouraged to allow course and exam completion remotely after Thanksgiving break.” 

The goal of this initiative is to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 after the break. Despite this worry, UF’s campus will still be open after the break. 

These concerns are not held by UF alone. Colleges across the country are also worried students who return after Thanksgiving may increase the number of positive cases on campus. 

Rachael Siegel, a 20-year-old behavioral and cognitive neuroscience sophomore, said she plans to leave for Thanksgiving break Nov. 21. Siegel, who lives in Fort Myers, Florida, said she decided she will not be returning to campus after the break. 

“I have exams every single week,” she said, “and I focus better at home because I don’t have distractions.” 

Siegel said she is especially excited to spend the rest of the semester at home because she hasn’t been able to see her family for a while. 

Maggie Nolan, a 20-year-old criminology and sociology junior, said she also plans to head home on Nov. 21. She said she will not return to campus until January. 

Nolan said she made this decision not only because she has final exams, but also because she hasn’t been home yet this semester. Her favorite Thanksgiving tradition, she said, is when her family watches “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” together. 

“I’m excited to see my family and my dogs,” she said, “while relaxing and not being stressed.” 

Me-Gan Vu, a 20-year-old music education junior, said she’s planning to leave for her home in Panama City, Florida, on Tuesday. Vu said she is looking forward to their annual family potluck and making mashed potatoes with her mom. 

After Thanksgiving break, Vu said she plans to come back to Gainesville. For her personally, she said she will be able to focus better on her schoolwork here. 

“I have my lease here still, so I was planning on coming back and staying until exams are over and everything,” she said.