The most recent executive order from Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz prohibits social gatherings, even when outdoors, with people who live in a different household.

Yes, that rule applies on Thanksgiving.

But what does it mean for college students who travel home for the holiday?

State health officials have discouraged everyone, including college students, from traveling. Minnesota doctors have made similar calls, too.

However, college students who travel home are not technically violating the governor's order because they are not considered members of separate households, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

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The state's health department is asking students who go home to take great lengths to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. They should also stay home for the remainder of the semester if they can, as many higher education institutions switching to all distance-learning classes for the remainder of the semester after the holiday break.

The University of Minnesota Duluth, the College of St. Scholastica and the University of Wisconsin-Superior are not resuming in-person classes following the break.

Some schools within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system have not made that call, especially those with more technical and hands-on courses like Lake Superior College in Duluth.

After the break, 65-70% of all LSC classes will be fully online, said LSC's spokesperson, Daniel Fanning. For most of the semester, about 50% of classes have been fully online.

"There's a number of our courses that just have to have some of these on-campus component," Fanning said. "It's a lot like late spring, early summer — the programs that really need that on-campus learning will have that."

LSC is asking students to follow the state's guidelines if they choose to travel for the holiday.

What students who travel should know

The state's health departments recommends getting tested. If the test is negative, stay put and stay away from others for at least 10 days.

After arriving home they should:

  • 'Lay low,' wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet away from others during the first two weeks.
  • Get tested at least five days after arriving, especially if they were around others when traveling.
  • Get tested right away if experiencing symptoms and stay away from others while waiting for results.
  • Avoid visiting older adults with health conditions.

Those who do return to campus or their college communities after traveling should 'lay low' when they return in case they were exposed to the virus.