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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Thanksgiving will be a big test for colleges with students on campus.

The big picture: Some schools, including the University of South Carolina, Syracuse University and Emory University, plan to end in-person instruction ahead of the holiday, while others are asking students not to go home.

Why it matters: Health officials fear indoor gatherings and traveling will worsen the spread of COVID-19 nationwide. If students do go home, experts recommend self-isolation, coronavirus tests and flu shots.

Where it stands: Boston University is asking students to stay on campus and have a "friendsgiving."

  • The State University of New York system announced that its 140,000 students must test negative if they want to leave campus.

The other side: The University of Missouri has told students to go home until January.

  • Penn State's departure plan encourages students to get tested prior to leaving campus and finishing their studies online. 

Flashback: Thousands of students were responsible for community outbreaks of COVID-19 returning from Spring Break travel, a researcher from Ball State University found.

What they're saying: "This is something I don’t think there is a perfect answer to, but again it’s all about risk tolerance and thinking about the ways you can minimize it," Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said last week at a virtual event. "And I do think that those individuals [in college] should be overall thought of as high-risk contacts."

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Germany to impose travel restrictions to curb spread of coronavirus variants

Border police officers check passports and COVID-19 tests at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Thomas Lohnes via Getty Images

Germany announced Friday that it was imposing new travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Details: All non-German residents traveling from countries deemed "areas of variant concern," including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Lesotho and Eswatini, will be banned from entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.

Updated 20 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Key FDA committee takes on the big booster question — Los Angeles County to require vaccination proof at indoor bars — France suspends 3,000 unvaccinated health workers without pay.
  2. Health: Worsening crisis at Rikers Island jail spurs call for action — 1 in 500 Americans has died — Cases are falling, but deaths are rising.
  3. Politics: White House invites call with Nicki Minaj to discuss vaccine — Gottlieb says CDC hampered U.S. response — 26 states have limited state or local officials' public health powers.
  4. Education: Denver looks to students to close Latino vaccination gap — Federal judge temporarily blocks Iowa's ban on mask mandates in schools — Massachusetts activates National Guard to help with school transportation.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Jan 29, 2021 - Health

WHO says most pregnant women can now receive coronavirus vaccine

A doctor administering Moderna's coronavirus vaccine at a university hospital in Essen, Germany, on Jan. 18. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has altered its guidance for pregnant women who wish to receive the coronavirus vaccine, saying now that those at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated.

Why it matters: The WHO drew backlash for its previous guidance that did not recommend pregnant women be inoculated with vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, even though data indicated that pregnancy increased the risk of developing severe illness from the virus.