A bittersweet family tradition has become an exercise in risk assessment, logistics and trying to understand ever-changing rules.
Maureen Rayhill of Seattle sounds like a public health official as she describes the current process for coronavirus testing, rattling off research she’s done on in-person testing centers versus mail-order companies and how their turnaround times for results compare. But she’s not. She’s a mother, just trying to get her oldest child to college.
The poignant annual tradition of college drop-off — parents driving the new, nervous college student to school, bringing along brothers and sisters to see their sibling’s new home, setting up the tiny dorm room together, sharing one last meal with the entire family, then waving goodbye as the almost-adult runs off with a big pack of possible new best friends — has become the latest family milestone rendered almost unrecognizable by the coronavirus pandemic.
Ms. Rayhill, 49, has already canceled the family vacation in Maine that she had dreamed of taking before bringing Corrigan to Colby College in Waterville next month. Instead, the retired nurse and homemaker is frantically caught up with how to get a virus test done within 72 hours of departure to meet the Maine state requirements, when current test results are taking up to five days to be returned.
“It’s nothing like what we thought it would be,” she says.
The drop-off has always been a momentous trip, fraught with strong emotions felt by parents and children alike. Now pile on the additional stress of Covid-19. Families need to navigate how to best get to campus while minimizing their exposure to the virus, all while trying to adhere to changing and often confusing school and state health, safety and travel rules.
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