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Posted on: November 18, 2020

Loudoun Health Officials Offer Guidance on College Students Returning Home for the Holidays

Image of students returning home from college with COVID-19 safety message

Loudoun County health officials recommend college students and their families take precautions as students return home for the holidays or extended breaks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

As college students travel home, many communities across the country are experiencing an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. The combination of events presents an increased risk for COVID-19 transmission and for bringing the virus into homes. Students should use extra caution if they will interact with older family members and individuals in the household who have underlying medical conditions.

Following the steps below from the Virginia Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will help minimize the risk to families and the greater Loudoun community.

Minimize Your Risk Before You Leave Campus

  • Limit interactions with others before departure to decrease the potential for exposure to COVID-19 prior to travel (ideally, for 14 days before traveling).
  • Wear a face covering and keep at least 6 feet apart from others, even if you are outside.
  • Consider getting tested for COVID-19 before you leave and if possible, wait until you have the results before traveling home (ideally, this testing would be done as close to your date of departure as possible, and no more than 10-14 days before leaving your school.)
  • Get a flu vaccine.

Follow Prevention Steps for Travel

  • Follow these COVID-19 core prevention steps to minimize the risk of exposure during travel (whether by personal vehicle or public transportation):
    • Do not travel if you are sick or have been around someone with COVID-19 within 14 days of travel.
    • Wear a face covering to keep your nose and mouth covered when in public settings, including on public transportation and in transportation hubs, such as airports and rail or bus stations.
    • Avoid close contact by staying at least 6 feet apart from others.
    • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

Minimize Your Risk to Your Family and Friends While at Home

  • Consider getting tested about one week after returning home to help identify any exposures or illness you may have picked up while traveling.
  • Minimize interactions with others by spending short periods of time with smaller groups of people, outside if possible, and avoiding long, indoor gatherings.
  • Regularly disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Follow these guidelines for safe holiday celebrations.

Check with Your College or University Before Returning

  • Many schools will have return protocols (such as quarantining and getting tested) that you should follow at the end of the holiday or break.
  • Continue to monitor for any signs or symptoms of COVID-19. Isolate from others and get tested if you develop any symptoms.

Monitor Your Health

Anyone (you, your family, or friends) who develops any COVID-19 symptoms, even if symptoms are very mild, should isolate from others and get tested as soon as possible. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.

Stay Informed 

Loudoun County encourages residents to stay informed about COVID-19.

  • Visit loudoun.gov/coronavirus for more information about how to protect yourself and your family and to sign up for email and text updates on COVID-19.
  • Opt in to receive text messages:
    • English: Text LCCOVID19 to 888777
    • Spanish: Text LCCOVIDESP to 88877

Residents with questions about COVID-19 may call the Loudoun County Health Department’s information line, 703-737-8300, or send an email

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