Message from Mayor Paul Rosenberg – COVID Guidance for College Students Returning Home

Posted on November 16, 2020

Good afternoon Rye Brook residents.

I have received several inquiries from residents about the best way to handle COVID-19 concerns regarding college students returning from school. While the SUNY system has instituted its own set of testing protocols for their students returning home for Thanksgiving, NY State has not published official guidance targeted at college students returning from non-SUNY schools. That being the case, I am going to summarize below guidance from reliable sources, as well as links to articles about this topic that you may find useful.

  • People who do not currently live in your housing unit, such as college students who are returning home from school for the holidays, should be considered part of different households. In-person gatherings that bring together family members or friends from different households, including college students returning home, pose varying levels of risk. (CDC Website)
  • Parents should think about asking their returning college student(s) to quarantine 5-7 days before returning home.
  • College students should get at least 1 COVID-19 test before returning home.  Optimally, one test 5-7 days prior to travelling, and then another the day before or day of travel.  But remember a test is just a snapshot of the day it is taken, says Dr. Judy Guzman-Cottrill, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Oregon Health & Science University. “One negative test does not mean that you are home free.” And even if a test is negative, it’s not a guarantee the person taking it is not infected. (article on
  • If parents drive to pick up a student, or the student rides home with friends, all passengers in the car should wear a mask and ride with windows open if possible. If it is too cold outside, open the car windows at regular intervals to let out contaminated air. Make sure the car heater or air-conditioner is using outside air rather than recirculated air. (NY Times)
  • College students should get tested when they return home.  To schedule a test in NY State, click here.
  • Students traveling on buses, trains or planes should keep their masks on as consistently as possible, wash hands frequently, sit near empty seats when possible and avoid crowded areas.  (NY Times)

Finally, there are articles that state that returning college students should wear masks in their own homes for at least 3-4 days, after returning home.  That will be a personal decision and conversation that you will need to have with your returning child.

Other resources:
CDC Guide to celebrating Thanksgiving during COVID-19
NYS COVID-19 Travel Advisory
American College Health Association COVID guidance as students return home

Thank you.
Paul Rosenberg

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