Preparing for holiday departure

Dear Wake Forest faculty and staff,

This afternoon, we shared the following information with students to help them plan to depart from Wake Forest for Thanksgiving. This message contains information and resources that may be helpful as you make your own plans during the holiday season. It would be helpful if you could emphasize the importance of this information with students.

Thank you for your continued partnership,

Penny Rue
Vice President for Campus Life

Dear Wake Forest students,

As we turn our collective sights toward Thanksgiving, exams and the holiday break, I write to encourage you to make a plan to protect your personal health, that of your family and the community into which you will return. We know that some of you live locally year-round and are already “home.” However, we wanted to be sure to share this information with all Wake Forest students, given the increased likelihood of travel during the holiday season, and our desire for your well-being.

Travel, unmasked gatherings with even small groups of family and friends, and eating and drinking in close proximity to others have proven to be behaviors related to the spread of COVID-19. Perhaps the single most important step you can take is to communicate with your family and friends before returning home about any health concerns and mutual expectations for the coming months.

The following guidance and resources will help you travel safely and make the transition home for an enjoyable holiday season.

Pre-departure Quarantine and Isolation

The most effective way to protect the health and safety of family and friends is to reduce the likelihood that you become exposed to or infected with COVID-19. We recommend limiting social interaction for 14 days before traveling to reduce the risk of exposure. Attending class and grab-and-go dining are activities with little risk of exposure.

Specific recommended precautions during this 14-day period include the following:

  • Limit the number of people with whom you have close contact, including during meals, to roommates, suitemates or housemates.
  • Only make trips to public places for essential activities such as attending class, buying groceries or picking up food, and medical visits.
  • Avoid eating at restaurants, especially those where dining is indoors. Do not go to bars or other crowded places, especially where masks cannot be worn at all times.
  • Wear masks when with anyone who does not live with you, even when gathering socially.

If you have been instructed to quarantine or placed in isolation by Student Health Service or another medical provider, it is possible that you may be permitted to complete the quarantine or isolation period from home; however, the Department of Health and Human Services prohibits you from using public transportation (planes, trains, shuttles, buses or Uber/Lyft) until you have been formally released from quarantine or isolation. Students in isolation and quarantine will receive instructions on how to determine if they may relocate and the steps needed for that transition.

If a period of quarantine or isolation requires a student to stay in Winston-Salem past their planned travel date, Wake Forest will assist with accommodations.

Find guidelines for quarantine and isolation on the Student Health Service website.

Pre-departure Testing

Students are not required to get tested before leaving Wake Forest, however, we recognize that some students and their families may desire the assurance a pre-departure test can provide.

Be aware: if you test positive, you will be required to cooperate with contact tracing and to complete a 10-day period of isolation, and you will be restricted from using public transportation during this time. If you test negative, remember that the test represents your health at a moment in time, and contact with others after your test (before, during or after travel) may expose you to the virus.

If you choose to get tested before departing from Wake Forest, please allow 24-48 hours to receive your results. Result times may vary by testing provider and current demand. Students must report positive test results to the Student Health Service.

Wake Forest will offer tests on campus at no charge to students on November 16 and, if demand warrants, November 17 at our testing site. The number of testing appointments will be limited, and you must register no later than November 9 to reserve a spot. On November 12, registered students will receive a link to reserve a testing time.

Students may also choose to get tested through local providers off campus, or request a test by mail, at their own expense. Trusted test providers include:

  • Pixel by LabCorp — At home nasal swab ($119 LabCorp will file against your health insurance, or you can pay by credit card).
  • Questdirect by Quest Diagnostics — At home nasal swab or limited onsite testing ($129 paid by credit card).
  • CVS — Onsite nasal swab testing at select CVS locations (no upfront cost, CVS will file against your health insurance).

Please contact Student Health Service if you need a test and the options above do not work for you.

Travel Considerations

Requirements for masks, social distancing, quarantine and testing vary by state. With COVID-19 cases rising in many parts of the country, requirements may change rapidly. Please be aware of requirements in your destination area.

If you have been instructed to quarantine or placed in isolation by Student Health Service or another medical provider, the Department of Health and Human Services prohibits you from using public transportation (planes, trains, shuttles, buses or Uber/Lyft) until you have been formally released from quarantine or isolation.

If driving or using other forms of private transportation, limit stops during travel to obtain gas and food/hydration, and avoid entering any public spaces to reduce the risk of exposing others.

The American College Health Association offers a list of recommendations specific to college students returning home during the holidays, and the CDC offers general guidance for travel during the pandemic.

Gathering Considerations While at Home

Consider additional testing and quarantine precautions after arriving at your final destination. Regardless of your destination and plans while away from campus, masks, social distancing, and washing your hands frequently remain your best protection against the virus.

Particularly during the holidays it will be tempting to let these precautions lapse. Remember that time spent in close proximity to others in enclosed spaces, like a kitchen or family room, and close proximity to others over a meal are high-risk situations.

In summary, please plan ahead and communicate your plans with family and friends, travel safely and enjoy the holiday season.


Penny Rue
Vice President for Campus Life