Northeast governors call on colleges to provide students with Covid testing

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A nurse prepares to test for Covid-19. | AP Photo/Taimy Alvarez

Citing rising coronavirus cases nationwide, seven northeast governors are calling on colleges and universities in their states to provide Covid-19 tests for all students traveling home for Thanksgiving.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, along with the governors of Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Massachusetts on Wednesday announced they are encouraging residential colleges and universities in their respective states to make tests widely available to traveling students before they leave campus and to double down on isolation and quarantine efforts for those students who test positive.

“With Thanksgiving and the broader holiday season fast approaching, we have to recognize that any large family gathering — particularly among different age groups — runs the risk of turning the dinner table into a COVID hotspot,” Murphy said in a statement. “To reduce the risk of transmission across our region, we are encouraging colleges and universities to ramp up testing for students returning home, and for anyone who tests positive to adhere to their state’s quarantine restrictions.”

The governors developed the guidance over the weekend during an emergency summit of Northeastern governors.

The guidance: To mitigate college-related travel spreading of Covid-19, the governors are also “strongly recommending” that colleges and universities finish their fall semesters online rather than sending students back to campus and then back home again in December for winter break.

According to a statement from Murphy’s office, half of all colleges and universities across the northeast have already indicated they will be fully remote between Thanksgiving and the end of their fall semester.

If colleges and universities do reopen for in-person instruction, the governors said, all returning students should receive covid tests and comply with all isolation and quarantine protocols.

In New York, Cuomo said earlier this month that the State University of New York system will conduct “exit testing” and will “cancel the return” of students to campus and move to a remote-learning model for the rest of the semester, though all schools within the public university system had already planned for this.

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