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A socially-distanced parade of new students wandered WKU’s campus Saturday, August 22. WKU students are adjusting to the new campus rules according to WKU’s restart plan, including the requirement of masks in all shared public spaces on campus.

Hilltoppers will be returning home Friday until Spring following a semester-long series of COVID-19 regulations, including a mandatory indoor mask mandate, social distancing, and online options for classes.

Unlike a normal semester, students will be transitioning into fully online classes following Thanksgiving Break. This has been the plan since the beginning of the semester and comes at a time of spiking COVID-19 cases across Kentucky.

Students across campus explained their plan when returning home for a break, which includes COVID-19 testing before returning home and following COVID-19 regulations outside of WKU’s campus.

Freshman Chris Muller plans to follow COVID-19 guidelines while at home to ensure he can protect his family and coworkers.

“I work at Cracker Barrel, and my parents are also older,” Muller said. “I don’t want to spread the virus to anybody. It would be unfortunate if I got it, and I would be out of work for two weeks.”

Senior Tanner Lowhorn thinks that the COVID-19 regulations made the semester more difficult than usual, but still plans to follow guidelines when he returns home over the break.

“I’m working in Bowling Green so I’ll be here for part of the break, but then I will be going home for a couple of weeks,” Lowhorn said. “I will do my best when I get home to stay in the house with immediate family and not do a whole lot.”

Junior Kara McKnight thinks that WKU could have done a better job with maintaining regulations in the Downing Student Union and plans to follow COVID-19 guidelines when she returns home for break.

“I think they’re doing better than some schools, but I think DSU could handle social distancing better with the Chick Fil A and Starbucks lines,” McKnight said. “I’ve already been tested before I go home, and I’m going to keep it up because my Mom has immune problems.”

Freshman Shella Cowman is thankful for the efforts of WKU to enforce Healthy on the Hill and intends on bringing similar regulations back home with her.

“I think Healthy on the Hill was really good because it set a high standard for the school year that we want to be safe and have precautions,” Cowman said. “I know my home county isn’t doing the best so I will definitely be wearing my mask, doing sanitizing, and social distancing while I’m at home.”

Susan Eagle, a public health instructor in the College of Health and Services, explained what she felt students should be doing prior to leaving campus for Thanksgiving break.

“Students should be limiting their in-person contact with others and making sure they are following all public health guidelines,” Eagle said. “If at all possible, students should quarantine for 14 days both before traveling or after getting home. While we’re too close to Thanksgiving for a full quarantine period before leaving, it’s still a good idea to quarantine yourself for as long as possible and begin a new quarantine period once you arrive home. Another good step to take is to get your flu shot.”

Eagle also explained the limitations of the COVID-19 test and why following health guidelines is important.

“A COVID-19 test is limited in what it can tell you; it will indicate whether or not you are positive for the virus at the time you were tested,” Eagle said. “This may be helpful, especially if you have been quarantining and following other public health guidelines.”

She also explained what happens if you are tested too soon after being exposed to COVID-19.

“If you are tested too soon after exposure to COVID-19,” Eagle said. “However, you may test negative simply because you are presymptomatic. If you happen to be traveling in that window, you could still be contagious. For this reason, it’s best to follow public health guidelines even if you have a negative test result.”

Debra Murray can be reached at debra.murray940@topper.wku.edu. Follow her on Twitter @debramurrayy

Sean Snyder can be reached at sean.snyder887@topper.wku.edu. Follow him on Twitter @seanwsnyder

Shane Stryker can be reached at shane.stryker614@topper.wku.edu. Follow him on Twitter @shanestryker.

Shane Stryker is a digital reporter for the College Heights Herald. He is a freshman in the Mahurin Honors College and is double majoring in history and international affairs.

Debra Murray is a reporter for the College Heights Herald. She is a freshman majoring in Journalism and Political Science at WKU.