Here’s what you need to know:
- Schedule a flu shot
- Get a COVID test
- Manage stress
- Follow existing protocols
Everything’s different this year—even winter break. Remote exams and rising COVID-19 rates, added to the usual joys and stresses of the season, mean it’s no longer as simple as finishing your last final, throwing your laundry in a suitcase, and hitting the road. To help you prepare without getting overwhelmed, here are some of the most important things you need to know and do.
1. Schedule your flu shot
Vaccinations are more important than ever this winter. Getting yours a couple of weeks before break begins will help protect you and those around you over break—and because it’s a requirement for spring, it’ll be one less thing you have to do later. The final flu shot clinic of the semester will take place between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Thursday, November 12, in the Student Union Ballroom. And if you can’t make it there, the Student Health Center has information on getting your flu shot and submitting documentation.
2. Get a COVID test
You can be infected without ever knowing it and spread COVID-19 to your family and friends without experiencing any symptoms. So even if you feel great, it’s important to know you aren’t infected before you leave for break.
The Student Health Center provides COVID testing to all students at no charge. Plan to take a test at the beginning of the last week that you plan to be on campus. Allow time to self-isolate while awaiting your test result and get your result back before you leave.
The university will provide isolation space for on-campus students who test positive and quarantine space for on-campus students who have symptoms or are close contacts.
Students with no symptoms have two options:
- Pick up an EverlyWell test kit from the Student Health Center and perform the test yourself. No appointment is needed, and the turnaround time for results is two to three days. Learn more about EverlyWell test kits and how to get one.
- Schedule a test with the Student Health Center COVID Clinic, with a turnaround time of one to two days. Call 865-974-5080.
Students with COVID symptoms need to be evaluated by a health care provider before being tested. Schedule an appointment with the center’s Sick Clinic by calling 865-974-5080 or contact your health care provider.
3. Pack for Exams
If you have online exams after Thanksgiving, make sure you pack textbooks, notes, and anything else you’ll need to wrap up the semester.
If you’ll be traveling by air, bus, or other public transportation, make sure you know the regulations ahead of time to avoid last-minute issues. If you’re traveling by car with others, make sure everybody’s on the same page about issues like getting a COVID test before you leave, wearing masks in the car, and how you’ll handle meals along the way.
Get familiar with the health data and regulations at your destination and any planned stops. The CDC website has a data tracker where you can check each state’s cases for the past week as well as links to state and territorial regulations. A quick web search of COVID plus a place name can connect you with more detailed information, including city and county dashboards and information on local regulations.
Thanksgiving and Other Holidays
Talk to the family or friends you’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving with to get a sense of the size of the gathering, who’s going to be there, and whether anyone’s especially vulnerable or at high risk of exposure to COVID. Especially if you have concerns, make sure your parents or hosts know about the CDC’s Thanksgiving guidelines. Be ready to make the same preparations for other holiday celebrations during break.
Start thinking now about low-risk events and activities where you’re going to be. Drive-in concerts and movies, winter sports like tubing and skating at outdoor rinks, and small-group bonfire gatherings can help you safely unwind and connect.
Review CDC guidance on daily activities and going out. You can search for the place you want to go or activity you want to participate in and see CDC safety recommendations.
Changes and stress
Returning home for break can be unexpectedly difficult, especially for first-year students. There may be new expectations to negotiate and new roles and attitudes to adjust to—and as if that weren’t enough, the additional stresses of a pandemic and a divisive election on top of the holiday season. Just being aware that you may run into difficulties can help you be prepared for them. Make sure that both your coping skills and your friends or other support systems are within reach.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, these resources are free, confidential, and available 24/7:
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline
800-273-TALK (8255) or chat online at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat
- Domestic Violence Hotline
800-799-7233 (SAFE) or chat online at thehotline.org
With many gyms closed and the weather turning colder, it can be harder to get enough exercise when you’re away from campus. And if you’re back with your family, home cooking and a well-stocked fridge just a few steps away can add to the challenge. Stay at your best and keep your immune system strong by making sure you have healthy snacks and spend some time moving around every day—even if it’s carrying laundry up and down stairs or doing mini-workouts in your room. And if you’re staying in Knoxville, take advantage of RecSports’ winter hours. TRECS, the Student Aquatics Center, and the Vol Wall Climbing Gym will all be open during the break.
Many student resources are available online and will be open through winter break (except for university holidays). You can take advantage of telemedicine services through the Student Health Center if you qualify for student health services, and remote sessions and Therapy Assistance Online will be available through the Student Counseling Center. Most of the Academic Success Center’s online services are available through December 1, and academic coaching will be available during winter break. One Stop can help with spring semester registration, payment, and financial aid questions. If you’re staying in Knoxville, some services will still be available on campus—call to find out the best way to access what you need.
Staying connected with your classmates and friends from UT will also help keep you supported (especially during exams) and accountable for staying safe over break.
Reporting a positive test over the break
If you need to self-isolate for a positive COVID-19 test or for other reasons while you are away from campus for the holiday break, please complete the self-isolation form. Your assistance will help the university maintain accurate data on the effects of COVID-19. Learn more about when to self-isolate.
Coming to Campus
Wherever you go, remember you’re a Vol
We got through this semester because of our Volunteer spirit—resilience, persistence, and a commitment to stepping forward in leadership and service. Carry those traits and all that you’ve learned with you and be a model of positive change wherever you are.