Students staying on campus this Thanksgiving break can expect to abide by regular COVID-19 testing and symptom attestation rules, as well as receive a Thanksgiving meal provided by Dining Services.
In preparation for the festivities, Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore wrote to students Nov. 6 asking them to take an extra test the week after the break. He also reiterated Provost Jean Morrison’s July letter asking students to either stay on campus for the break or to not return if they choose to travel.
For those staying on campus, COVID-19 guidelines — daily symptom attestation, regular testing and compliance badge checks — will remain the norm.
Thanksgiving Day, dining halls will serve holiday favorites such as turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie as part of its “Friendsgiving” meal from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Traditional autumn fare will persist throughout the weekend, with meals categorized under “Refined Friday Dinner” and “Comfort Food Delights.”
“Stick around, eat all you care to, and of course, give thanks!” the BU Dining website reads.
Full menus from Nov. 26 to Nov. 29 are available on the Dining Services website.
All students traveling off campus — including those traveling within Massachusetts — will have to change their Learn from Anywhere status. Anyone who returns must follow BU’s stay-in-place advisory, which requires students to remain in their on-campus residence, apart from visiting testing centers and obtaining meals, until they produce three consecutive negative COVID-19 tests.
Elmore said the University does not plan to enforce students’ stay-in-place periods through disciplinary measures.
“We’re not going to block anyone from moving to and fro. This is still a free country,” Elmore said. “We’re just saying that we want you to be more thoughtful about it.”
While the University cannot force students to follow travel guidance, Elmore said, he hopes students choose to stay on campus for the break. He said students can participate in a host of activities on campus, such as Stump Trivia, an escape room and movie watch parties.
Elmore said testing centers — similar to Dining Halls — will close early Thanksgiving day to give workers time to relax.
“We need to dispel those folks,” Elmore said. “They’ve been working good and hard and they need to get home as well.”
Ruby Maute, a sophomore in the College of Communication, said she originally planned to travel home for Thanksgiving, but decided to remain instead.
“I didn’t want to risk getting coronavirus or giving anyone coronavirus there in New York, or when I came back to BU,” Maute said. “I just think, overall, it’s safer to be on campus.”
Maute said she understands some people might feel compelled to go home.
“A lot of my friends are going home, which kind of sucks, but I get it,” Maute said. “I respect everyone’s opinions or needs or whatever. I don’t know what situation they’re in.”
She said she will stay in her BU residence for most of the break, with plans to catch up on work and video call with friends.
College of Arts and Sciences senior Kendall Sirica said despite residing in Connecticut — less than a two-hour drive from campus — she has opted to stay at BU. Sirica said it would be “hypocritical” to travel home for Thanksgiving and then return to campus, because she disapproves of others doing the same.
“I thought it would be more aligned with my morals if I stayed and then encouraged other people to stay,” Sirica said. “I think it’s the right thing to do for public health, is to just stay in place even though it’s a holiday.”
She added she thinks more students will likely stay on campus this year, which will make the environment feel less “deserted and lonely” than it did in past years.
“People who go to BU and also just Boston residents aren’t going to be traveling as much,” Sirica said. “It’s not going to seem like the whole city and the whole campus emptied out for the weekend.”
Questrom School of Business junior Elena Cameron said she is staying for Thanksgiving because she would like to attend in-person classes post-break. Cameron said she finds dining hall food “incredible” and plans to eat on campus throughout the week.
Cameron said she is cognizant of contracting and spreading the virus, and she hopes other BU community members will be as well.
“I feel like BU has handled COVID, so far, better than a lot of other schools within the area,” Cameron said. “I feel confident that BU will do its best, but again, it’s up to the students.”
Melissa Ellin contributed to the reporting of this article.