COVID-19 Safety During the Holidays
11/19/2020, 09:00:01 AM
University of Houston

Dear Campus Community,

As we approach Thanksgiving and the holiday season, it’s understandable that we are all eager to celebrate with family and friends.  But it’s crucial that we don’t let that enthusiasm compromise our good sense.

We are still facing a serious threat from the COVID-19 pandemic.  In fact, we now find ourselves in the midst of another surge, with cases on the rise again and some medical facilities in our region and our state on the verge of being overwhelmed.

Thus far, we have done a good job of keeping one another safe and protecting our community by following our COVID-19 guidelines here at the University of Houston. Our own numbers have been relatively low.  But that should not give us a false sense of security and mislead us into dropping our precautions for these special occasions.

UH has taken steps to address the potential upsurge – and the emerging flu season – by moving all academic instruction and testing to the online platform after the Thanksgiving break.  We should take advantage of this and be even more vigilant in our best practices, especially when faced with the various temptations the holidays present. Let me urge you to keep these recommendations in mind: 

  • If you haven’t received a flu shot yet, please do.
  • The safest way to celebrate is with people in your household.  Consider restricting contact with anyone outside your household for 14 days before and after a gathering. 
  • Participating in outdoor gatherings is safer than indoor events, but even outside you should practice social distancing, handwashing and mask-wearing, particularly for any interaction with non-household members.
  • Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. But if you do travel, maintain social distance and wear a mask in all public settings and on transportation. Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer. Bring extra supplies of masks and sanitizer.
  • Those doing holiday shopping should avoid crowded stores, including during busy Black Friday sales. Consider online shopping, curbside pick-up, and home delivery options instead. If you do go to stores, try to visit during less crowded times of day.
  • Finally, I can’t emphasize too strongly how important it is to maintain the most fundamental safeguards – wearing a mask, washing your hands, keeping social distance and staying home if you are feeling ill. The pandemic doesn’t take the holidays off.  

These are all simple procedures, but the benefits we all receive from following them are invaluable.

Please remember that should you travel internationally during the holidays OR if you have been potentially exposed to an individual diagnosed with COVID-19, you are required to self-quarantine, submit this form and acquire written clearance before returning to campus.  Likewise, if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you must submit this form, and acquire written clearance before returning to UH.  If you have questions or concerns about COVID-19 and UH policies, consult our updated website.

Our University has worked hard to keep itself as safe and as secure as possible during these difficult times.  Let’s not stop now! I hope that everyone will have a happy holiday and stay healthy in the process.  That’s truly something to be thankful for.


Stephen J. Spann, M.D., M.B.A.
Founding Dean, College of Medicine
Vice President for Medical Affairs
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