Thanksgiving Amid The Coronavirus

By Douglas M. Campbell

During this year’s Thanksgiving feast, a feeling of uncertainty is served to some students as the spread of the coronavirus continues into the holiday season. According to the Ohio Department of Health, as of Nov. 25, there are 414,009 cases of the coronavirus. 

Students and their families are faced with a change in their holiday celebrations, such as Briana Dent, a junior psychology major.

“It’s going to be hard because I’m used to seeing every one of my family members. We have a big family, so it’s going to be different this year,” Dent said.

The state of Ohio recently issued 14 states with travel advisories as coronavirus cases increase. This forced some students to adjust their plans by staying on campus or remaining in Ohio.

“We are having separate family dinners just so we aren’t together in one area. My grandma is 80 and healthy, so we are doing our own Thanksgiving and traveling to some of our family’s houses and not staying for long, family members farther away we will meet on Zoom,” Dent said.

Other students such as Sally Frederick, a junior student in an individualized curriculum plan,  planned to give back to others during the holiday instead of having a traditional feast. 

“In November up until Christmas, any fast-food we purchase, we will buy a gift card for the same amount and give it to a homeless person, that’s how we celebrate,” Frederick said. 

Likewise, Justin Shaughnessy, a master’s degree candidate and president of Student Government Association, along with other members in the SGA, helped students stuck on campus with the Penguin Pantry. 

SGA members helped students fill out applications and supplied them with food outside the pantry’s holiday operating hours.

“For Thanksgiving break, we really encourage our students to fill the form on the website prior to Thanksgiving, that way they will have the stuff they need. During the break, we will be available to help fill out orders as they come in … and placed so students can pick them up,” Shaughnessy said.

The most-requested items were hygiene products such as toothpaste and toilet paper.

Like the Penguin Pantry, the Student Counseling Services was also closed during the break. However, the after-hours service was available for students and faculty to utilize, connecting students and staff with a mental health professional at any time or on holidays. 

Ann Jaronski, director of student counseling, said the service started in February 2020. It enlists help from a committee called “Protocol” that manages crisis intervention and stabilization. 

“We are very excited to have this so that students have an opportunity to get in touch with a mental health professional regardless of whether we are open or not,” Jaronski said.

To use this service, students can call the Student Counseling Services’ phone number and press one after the automated message. The call will then be transferred immediately to a professional. 

“This has been an ongoing challenging year for all of us. The more that we can support each other in those challenges, the better off I think we are,” Jaronski said.

Those wishing to connect to a mental health professional can call the after-hours service at 855-473-1088.