North Dining Hall is offering a Thanksgiving meal for students Nov. 18 consisting of turkey, ham, stuffing, corn and more, with CRU’s Thanksgiving meal being offered in the Hadley Union Building (HUB).

With Thanksgiving break quickly approaching, students are scrambling to make decisions about whether or not they plan to return to campus for the last week of classes and finals, or to stay home.

Thanksgiving might look a little different this year for most families. Many students have already heard about the push for a virtual Thanksgiving to limit the spread of COVID-19. With case numbers on the rise, students have to decide if going home and seeing extended family members is really the best idea.

“I go home for break every year,” Olivia Tavoletti (senior, marketing) said, “but this year, it is especially easy to go home because all of my classes are online.”

Tavoletti plans to return to her off-campus residence after the Thanksgiving break. She believes she will be able to focus better on finals and the last of her schoolwork from her apartment.

“I’m going home for break to visit with my family for the holidays,” Danielle Zdrale (senior, marketing) said.

Unlike Tavoletti, Zdrale plans to stay home after the break to begin working during the holiday season. Both Tavoletti and Zdrale plan to attend small gatherings for the holiday with only family members.

“We’ve all been keeping our circles small and have been seeing each other frequently already,” Tavoletti said.

For some students, they see break as a short escape from school.

“I want to be with my family for break, and it will be a nice break to be in a different environment than school,” Thea McCollough (senior, fashion merchandising) said.

McCollough said that she plans to stay home after Thanksgiving break as well.

“I live four hours away from IUP,” she said. “It’s not worth it to go back out to school for only two weeks when all my classes will be online.”

McCollough plans to also attend a Thanksgiving event with her mother’s side of the family.

Virtual Thanksgiving is a new option this year for students to gather with their families without risking the spread of COVID-19. While this idea might sound smart in theory, many students disagree with the idea.

“I don’t like the idea of a virtual Thanksgiving at all,” Tavoletti said. “It would be the first time ever that I’m not with all of my family for the holiday, and I don’t think the day would be as exciting without everyone there.”

Zdrale agrees with Tavoletti in that “the holidays are a time where families are supposed to be together.” She also understands though that with COVID-19, it is no longer easy to get together with friends and family.

“I haven’t seen my extended family in almost a year,” McCollough said. “So, I would like to actually see them in-person.”

All the students did agree though that a virtual Thanksgiving would be safer overall, just not the same.

“This year has already been bad enough,” Tavoletti said. “I couldn’t imagine not spending the holidays together on top of it.”

McCollough responded similarly.

“Life has been stressful for everyone,” she said. “I think it would be nice for people to have a little taste of ‘normal’ again.”

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