Labor Day weekend is coming up, but with COVID-19 still wrecking plans, safety is a major consideration this year.
USC doesn’t technically have Labor Day off this year; instead, it is an asynchronous remote class day, so be mindful that you don't forget about assignments over the holiday.
Before you solidify your plans for the weekend, make sure you aren't likely carrying COVID-19. The Center for Disease Control has a helpful guide to help you decide if you should delay traveling that goes into detail, but if you aren’t feeling well, have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days or are waiting on a viral test, you should not travel this weekend. Likewise, check in with your family if you are staying with them to make sure that none of them are feeling sick before you go so that you mitigate the risk of carrying the virus back to campus.
If you do still plan to travel, before you go make sure that where you are going doesn’t have more cases than where you are now. The CDC keeps up with case numbers by state, but data by county is also available. Along those lines, check on local rules before you leave so that you can be prepared to comply.
For those that are hosting a get-together, there are several safety measures you can take to keep your guests as safe as possible.
First, lay down your rules with your invitees before they show up, and don’t be afraid to ask people who aren’t willing to respect those rules to stay home. You have the right and the responsibility to mandate and enforce rules on any event you are hosting in order to keep everyone as safe as possible. Don’t let a person who doesn’t respect your authority put you and your loved ones at risk.
Secondly, we all know how parties go: People mill around and often get in each other’s space. Requiring masks at your party helps keep people's germs to themselves when they do cross into each others' space.
With that in mind, space should be the main limiting factor when you are deciding how many people to invite to any gathering. To give everyone safe “breathing room,” your guests need to have six feet of distance between them. Presetting chairs at six feet apart can help partygoers settle in places that are safe for them and other partygoers. If this means you can only have five to 10 people, then make sure you are spending time with people you love, even though the whole family or friend group might not be able to come around. Taking the party outside often can give you more space, and it gives you the best possible ventilation, so do that if you can.
If you are serving food at your gathering, there are several steps you can take to keep you and your guests as safe as possible. Using individual, prepackaged food is ideal for parties this year. Canned drinks and individual chip bags are good choices. If there is cooked food, make sure there is a dedicated food server for each item and that they are washing their hands and wearing their gloves. The fewer people that are touching food items before your guest eats them, the better.
Lastly, know your facts on COVID-19. Myths about the virus are often as infectious, if not more, than the virus itself. If you don’t know if something is accurate, don’t be afraid to fact check it with trustworthy resources like the CDC and the World Health Organization. Some of the more off-the-wall myths (COVID-19 being spread by 5G networks for example) might be good for trivia or conversation starters.
The main thing to remember when you are making plans for this holiday weekend is that you have the power to mitigate the risks in your travel and get-together plans. Don’t put yourself in situations that are overly risky, and don’t pressure people to be in situations that they feel are overly risky. You have a responsibility to the people you interact with this weekend and to our campus community to do your due diligence to keep yourself and all of the people that you come into contact with as safe as possible. We are all going through this together.