NAU students plan for the holidays

Illustration by Dominic Davies

The holiday season rapidly approaches and by the end of November, NAU students will travel off campus to spend time with their families and loved ones while taking a break from coursework. The semester started and is scheduled to end earlier due to COVID-19, which inflicted a number of other changes during the winter season.

According to The New York Times, a socially distanced Black Friday is expected, and as reported by USA Today, Macy's department stores will not feature Santas for the first time in 158 years.

Staying safe and healthy is always a priority during the winter, and these precautions are especially relevant this year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided tips on how to have a healthy holiday season. The CDC maintains everyone should  wash their hands often in order to prevent the spread of germs. Given it is flu season, the need for personal cleanliness and vaccinations is intensified. 

“Vaccinations help prevent diseases and save lives,” the CDC said.

To continue to stay safe and aware, the CDC recommends wearing masks and getting tested regularly. 

NAU students like freshman Eric Lessing plan to keep the festivities as normal as possible while also staying safe.

“I know everything is changing rapidly with COVID-19 news coming out daily, but my plan, for now, is to use my time hanging out with my best friends back home, as we haven’t been able to all get together in a long time,” Lessing said. 

He also explained his plan to work for DoorDash over the holiday break, which will help earn extra spending money before returning to school. Additionally, he shared his intention to visit old co-workers at the TV station he previously worked for and maybe even film an episode or two of the show he participated in. 

Freshman Shyann Rivera’s winter break will consist of undergoing jaw surgery and getting a Colorado cabin with her boyfriend for Christmas. She explained the recovery will take six weeks, while only consuming liquids before resuming normal activities. Eventually, the couple said they hope to go snowboarding. 

Another freshman, Jack Thompson, plans to use the time off school to help build his skills and focus on his career, and he hopes to intern for a congress member or state assemblyperson. He clarified he already contacted and communicated with congressional representatives and assembly offices, although the process is still ongoing. 

“I’ve been really passionate about politics for a while now, and I think that I want to get into that field when I’m older, whether it’s running for office, working on campaigns or something like that,” Thompson said.

With the semester coming to a close, students like Lessing, Rivera and Thompson will make their way off campus, each looking for a different experience before returning for the spring semester. The time away from school, especially with people traveling home or going on vacation, could pose risks during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to the Office of the President, students “ … must provide a negative result for a COVID-19 test completed within seven days prior to their return [on] January 11 ... [when] spring 2021 classes begin [via NAUFlex].”

In accordance with these plans, the university promoted public safety and reminded students that the pandemic does not end with the calendar year.