Colorado universities issue guidance to help prepare students for holiday travel amid the pandemic

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DENVER — From online classes to in-person learning and back, this year, college students’ patience has been put to the ultimate test. Now, with remote learning on the agenda for the remainder of the semester, some students are packing up and heading home.

Sarah Watamura, a psychology professor and COVID-19 coordinator at the University of Denver, says with many students planning to travel for the holidays, they’re reminding them about the importance of quarantine and COVID-19 testing before traveling.

“We have testing capability, so we have made that free,” Watamura said.

It’s no secret the number of cases of the novel coronavirus has surged across the state. During a news conference Friday, Governor Jared Polis said about 1 in 110 people in Colorado are estimated to currently have the coronavirus.

Watamura said they’ve been testing for the new respiratory disease since school started and will continue through the weekend. She says results are made available within 48 hours, but she strongly encourages students to begin planning now.

“Test at least ten days before you travel because if you are positive, you will need to stay,” Watamura said.

Earlier this year, the University of Colorado Boulder experienced the largest COVID-19 outbreak in the state. Like DU, the university is also urging students and staff to get tested but within a smaller time frame: 48 to 72 hours before traveling.

Alex Renteria, a spokesperson with Denver International Airport, is expecting this Thanksgiving to be their busiest travel period since mid-March.

“We are expecting the Sunday before and the Sunday after Thanksgiving to be the busiest days with around 50,000 people projected to go through the checkpoints,” Renteria said.

She is advising travelers to arrive early, wear a mask and practice social distancing. Travelers worried about big crowds can download VeriFly and make a reservation. It’s free.

“You have your own dedicated TSA line and you walk into the train platform and you have your own train with a maximum of 12 people,” Renteria said.

If your flight is in terminal A, you can walk through the bridge. You can also use terminal A as a launchpad to get to terminals B and C to reduce the amount of time on the train. Renteria adds that the airport has also added additional trains to help with congestion.

Hand sanitizer and wipes are provided throughout the airport, but if it’s out, you can file a report on the app “See Say Airport” or inform an airport employee. This week, DIA also rolled out AtYourGate, an app which allows you to order food and have it delivered to your gate to avoid lines and reduce contact.

DU students returning to campus after winter break will be required to take a flu shot or provide an exemption, as well as quarantine and take a COVID-19 test.