Empty tables on Campus

This Thanksgiving may involve more empty tables and fewer family get togethers as students face the decision of how to spend the holiday during a pandemic. (Signal Photo/Anthony Perkins)

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and like the rest of 2020, it is looking to potentially set itself apart from the “traditional” celebrations that many of us have come to know.

Both the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as Stan State president Ellen Junn have released statements recommending alternatives to the large gatherings typically associated with the holiday. Students now will be faced with the decision to improvise a new way of celebrating or to carry on with their original, non-pandemic impacted plans.

With the pandemic still continuing on, the CDC has released a list of recommendations on how to go about celebrating Thanksgiving this year. Some of the top advice that the CDC offers is to avoid travel, wear a mask when around others, and to minimize the sizes of gatherings in cases where gatherings are unavoidable.

On November 20, Stan State posted a holiday travel message from President Junn on the university website, addressing the fast approaching holiday season.

“As you all have heard, Stanislaus County has regressed back to the most dangerous purple level of contagion this past week and we will stay in this category for at least five more weeks," Junn said."Therefore, in the absence of an effective vaccine, and as cases continue to increase, the only health precautions we can take during this holiday season to bend the pandemic infection curve downward is to be even more cautious and make the sacrifice to stay home, and not gather with others, including our own families.”

The additional recommendations from Junn include wearing a mask when around others, social distancing, practicing proper hygiene, and to consider getting a COVID-19 test and self-isolating if travel is entirely unavoidable. Many of the recommendations that are listed in the holiday travel message mirror those given by the CDC on their website.

With students hearing a variety of voices recommending that this Thanksgiving should be celebrated differently this year, some students have already made new plans while others have decided to stick with their original ones.

Heidy Fernandez (junior, Psychology) is one of many students that will be celebrating Thanksgiving a bit differently this year. “Normally I would be going home to visit family and friends," Fernandez said. "I would go to my aunt’s house and we would all be gathered in the living room or at the table just telling stories and catching up. Working as an essential worker means I would be putting my family at risk by coming home. So instead of going home, I will be staying [in] and making Facetime calls,”

Other students such as Beverly Garcia (senior, Animal Science) are going to stick with their original plans for celebration. “The pandemic did change how much time I spent with family and friends at first since we were all scared, but now we see each other like normal again. This year will be like any other year, nothing is going to change in how we are celebrating,” Garcia said.

Regardless of whether students have made changes to their plans, many Stan State students have still found something to be grateful about this year amid all of the challenges they have faced.

“I am grateful for my family. We celebrate Thanksgiving with a small get together every year, and I’m glad that we will be celebrating as usual this year,” said Andres Solis (freshman, Business Administration)

Fernandez is also remaining in positive spirits this holiday season. “I am thankful for the health of my family and those I care about. I’m also thankful for a job that gives me the ability to still be able to provide for myself and put a roof over my head,” he said.

Whether students will be having a Thanksgiving dinner with family on Zoom or in person, the hope is for everyone to stay safe and enjoy holidays, regardless of how they are celebrated. Even during a pandemic, Stan State students will continue to adapt and overcome in order to get through what may be a very different holiday season.

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