MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Several students at the University of Minnesota spent Sunday afternoon packing up their cars to travel home for the holidays.

The U of M and the University of St. Thomas are both encouraging students who travel for Thanksgiving to just stay home for the rest of the year and take virtual classes only.

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U freshman Sophia Iezzi is planning on traveling in-state for Thanksgiving.

“They just sent out an email actually saying that they recommend if we go home, we stay home,” Iezzi said. “It’s been hard, but we’ve stayed in, we haven’t gone out all semester, so we’re not going to throw it away now [laughs]!”

Huang, also a freshman, is driving back to Milwaukee on Sunday, and plans to stay home until next semester.

“I’m just going to go home, back to Wisconsin,” Huang said. “It’s crazy, but I am like homesick, so I’m excited to go back home for like a couple months and then come back.”

Eric Nekich showed up to U’s campus to bring his son back home to Wisconsin. He isn’t worried about the risk of his son leaving campus because of the way the U has been operating all fall.

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“Being from Wisconsin, I think what they’re doing here is way more safe than what we’ve got going on back home,” Nekich said. ”With the mask mandates and things like that. Just the communication as to what’s been open, what they’re doing virtually, you know, the balance they’ve been able to find here.”

Jenna Popp is a U freshmen traveling in-state for Thanksgiving. She’s been taking steps to make sure she isn’t putting her family at risk this week.

“I’m leaving on Tuesday and I’m just going to wear a mask all around my house and not really see any of my friends,” Popp said.

While most students are going home for Thanksgiving, but a few are opting to stay on campus.

“In total, there’s about like 30 staying here for the rest of the semester, which is really shocking,” Huang said.

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Click here for the University of Minnesota’s holiday response, and click here for the University of St. Thomas’s response.

Marielle Mohs