What to do About College Students?

Younger people may not show any symptoms (asymptomatic) and can spread the disease without knowing.

Some of you may have college students returning home for the holidays and may be wondering how to protect your family, especially if they’re coming from COVID hot spots. Younger people may not show any symptoms (asymptomatic) and can spread the disease without knowing. The safest approach is for them not to come home, but sometimes there’s no choice.

It’s best for students to quarantine for 14 days. If your child has not been quarantining, they should start as soon as they get home and they may have to enjoy the holiday meal in their own room.

Getting everyone tested is helpful, but only if your child hasn’t been exposed to the virus in the two weeks prior to the test. The same is true for every family member. The incubation period of the virus is 14 days with symptoms usually starting within 5 days. Getting a negative test can create a false sense of security. The test is a snapshot in time, not a predictor. Someone can still come down with the disease shortly after getting a negative result.

If everyone in your home is healthy and low risk, then a five to seven day quarantine and a negative test result can reduce the risk, but there is still a chance of infection. It’s best to talk about the risks with everyone who is going to be together and err on protecting the most vulnerable.

"If your child or someone else in your home is diagnosed with COVID-19, everyone in the home must quarantine and call their health provider to arrange for testing," said Dr. Bruno-Murtha. Find out how to get tested at CHA.

Cambridge Health Alliance

Contributed By: Cambridge Health Alliance

Cambridge Health Alliance is an academic community health care system committed to serving all members of our communities. We have expertise in primary care, mental health and substance abuse, and caring for diverse and complex populations. CHA patients receive high quality care in convenient neighborhood locations, and have seamless access to advanced care through CHA’s affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. With over 140,000 patients in Cambridge, Somerville Everett and Boston’s Metro North, CHA is working hard to offer the integrated services its communities need now, and in the future.