How Students Are Adjusting to Thanksgiving in 2020

November 20, 2020

With the pandemic not going away any time soon, HHS students will be looking at their phones rather than across the room to see their relatives this Thanksgiving. 

Starting on Nov. 3, Minnesota reported four straight days of record-setting daily COVID-19 cases. Two days later, on Nov. 8, they reported a state record of 5,908 new cases.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force warned that midwestern and upper midwestern states in particular “continue to see unrelenting, broad community spread” that, “will require aggressive mitigation” to avoid additional increases in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

According to Governor Tim Walz’s Executive Order 20-96, all social gatherings of more than 10 people and all social gatherings involving members of more than three households are prohibited. Walz said the state isn’t “going into someone’s home and arresting them on Thanksgiving,” but that Minnesotans should use the new restrictions as guidance.

Being that a social gathering could put family members at risk, it’s no wonder that a recent consumer survey found that 70 percent of Americans plan to celebrate Thanksgiving differently in 2020.

Nicole Penner, senior, has had to adjust her own tradition, “Friendsgiving,” to accommodate COVID-19. 

“Friendsgiving takes place normally the weekend before Thanksgiving, where me and a couple of my friends from junior high meet up and eat a Thanksgiving meal together. It started back in sophomore year when a couple of people from my friend group came up with the idea,” Penner said.

While an event like this can be unsafe, Penner and her friends are taking the necessary precautions to make sure that Friendsgiving isn’t canceled. 

“Before Friendsgiving this year, we all are planning to isolate in advance in order to keep each other and ourselves safe when we come together. Our group has also been condensed, and fewer people are attending this year,” Penner said. 

Penner is actively working to balance a social life while abiding by COVID-19 guidelines, as students who freely hang out are a point of contention within HHS.  

“I wouldn’t consider myself scared of COVID, but I am concerned with spreading it to people who are in danger if they get it. I know a lot of my friends are super scared of spreading it, which is why we are taking as many precautions as possible,” Penner said. 

While “Friendsgiving” is a unique celebration within HHS, almost all students have some sort of tradition for Thanksgiving dinner with their family. 

Gavin Hoffman, senior, normally meets with his family and other relatives to enjoy some delicious food. 

“It seems like everything we’re doing is working since no one has gotten COVID, but there is always that thought in the back of my mind thinking that my grandparents might get COVID from me or a family member. So, we take extreme precautions when around my elderly family members to ensure their safety,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman and his family have been fortunate as no one has tested positive yet. This is despite him and his cousins being involved in high school athletics and his brother coming home from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a college with increasingly high COVID cases. However, with an expected attendance of 12, it will be a challenge to make things safe when they are all in one house. 

“Sadly our plans have been changed due to the fact that our family doesn’t want our grandparents to be exposed to COVID, so they decided to opt out this year which can really kill the mood. But in the end, it’s better to miss out on one Thanksgiving than to risk your life for some turkey,” Hoffman said.

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