FAU community tries to plan for the holidays amid coronavirus

“I feel very lucky and grateful that my family is so close and can be together even with all of the restrictions,” FAU freshman Mia Goren said.


Illustration by Aitana Gonzalez.

Isabel Forsman, Contributing Writer

Coronavirus has not only affected the way people have lived for a year, but it has also taken the lives of loved ones and kept family and friends from visiting their elders in nursing homes, and the ill in hospitals. There have been 19,713 deaths due to COVID-19 in the state of Florida and the cases are rising. 

Apart from the deaths and cases COVID-19 has caused, it has also been challenging for students not being able to attend events, participate in school activities, or to gather in social groups. At FAU, there are many events that allow students to further their college education and get involved in their community. Students this year were not able to participate in these events, which could deter them from staying motivated to succeed academically and socially.  

Coming up on winter break, the challenges of not seeing the entire family or not being able to travel will make this winter different than the past.        

Although some restrictions have been lifted, Palm Beach County has had a recent 6.7% spike in cases from a week ago. They have alerted the county and state to practice better social distancing and to wear a mask at all times.  

For freshman Maddy Munroe, Christmas break will be much different than before. Munroe’s family always takes a trip to the Bahamas, where most of her family lives, to celebrate the holidays. This year, she and her parents are going to Tampa to visit her aunt and uncle but will miss the rest of her family that lives in the Bahamas due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“I wish my family could all be together but it’s more important that we all are safe and healthy,” Munroe said.

Currently, there are no travel bans in the state of Florida, but it is discouraged by the Florida Department of Health. Travel increases the chances of getting and spreading COVID-19 and allows someone to easily get infected without having symptoms while traveling from place to place.  

 For freshman Mia Goren, COVID-19 will not affect her holiday as much. Her family is all local and coming together for winter break. 

“I feel very lucky and grateful that my family is so close and can be together even with all of the restrictions,” Goren said. 

Senior Morgan Gray says that she doesn’t have a lot of plans yet for the break, besides her brother and his girlfriend flying to Florida from California. Gray says that they will probably spend a lot of their time on their boat and that the pandemic won’t affect their break.  

“It stinks that my other side of the family can’t be here for the holidays this year, but they have health problems that restrict them from traveling to see us,” Gray said. “I understand, but it will  just be different.”  

They decided it was worth it to visit the rest of the family. Although Gray explained COVID-19 wasn’t going to affect her winter break, she did mention that it mostly influenced her summer. She had a lot of plans that were canceled in the summer before she graduates. 

This past summer, many vacations were put on hold. Many flights were canceled due to the pandemic and traveling for nonessential reasons was heavily discouraged. 

In airports today, there are strict rules to follow. It is required to wear a  mask during security, walking to the terminal, and throughout the whole flight is required. Some restaurants and small kiosks are still not open so that it will limit the risk of spreading germs and having direct contact with people.     

Even if people were able to catch a flight for a fun summer vacation, non-essential businesses would have been closed. The activities would be limited as there would not be access to certain entertainment such as watersports, movies, restaurants, etc.

Gray had plans to visit her brother out in California and a friend in Las Vegas, as well as many trips to the Keys that she could not go on. 

She remains positive about the pandemic and is hopeful that this will be over soon. “I cannot wait for this year to be over! Come on 2021,” Gray said. 

For Steisy Diaz, a recent FAU graduate, this upcoming winter break will be similar to past years. Unfortunately, her family was directly impacted by COVID-19 and will be taking extra safety precautions when they come together, but will still be able to come together for their usual holiday celebration. 

There are many safety precautions families can follow when trying to come together for the holidays. Specific steps to follow are to wash hands often to prevent the spread of any germs, get tests for the friends and family members that will be together, wear masks consistently, and to limit the  number of people at events. 

Instead of the traditional celebration that usually takes place during the holidays, families and friends will be instructed by the CDC to limit the number of guests they have at their events. Holiday rituals might not be the same, but there are ways to still do some of the usual holiday festivities while limiting the risk of exposure. 

Diaz’s sister recently tested positive for COVID-19 and had to quarantine herself from the rest of the family for ten days. Luckily, no one else got infected in her family, but because of her sister’s infection, they want to be extra careful during winter break.

Diaz said that they will all be tested before their Christmas event due to her parents’ and grandparents’ age and health history, but she remains positive about the holidays. 

“They still plan to have a wonderful time together celebrating the holiday,” Diaz said with a smile. 

This coming break will be different than the past and will put restrictions on how many family members and friends can gather in one room. There will be less holiday shopping in stores and more online purchases, and fewer smiling faces to see.  

Unlike most, Diaz is not discouraged during this trying time and she is determined to spread holiday cheer. 

“We all need to stay positive and do our best to come together with family and friends, and to do anything we can, whether it’s FaceTime or Zoom, to see the family we can’t safely see face-to-face,” Diaz said.

Isabel Forsman is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories email [email protected] or tweet her @isabel_forsman.