Students Discuss Plans for Winter Break Amid Onset of New COVID Variant


Hannah Ashtari

As winter break quickly approaches, many students plan to travel and others plan to stay home as the Omicron variant gains steam in the US.

The countdown to winter break has officially begun, as the last days of school slip away before the end of December. With only midterm exams standing in the way of a two-and-a-half-week vacation, students are beginning to consider how they will spend their time this holiday season. While many will opt to stay home and relax, others have plans to travel. Some students have also found their plans for the upcoming free weeks interrupted by the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Recently detected in the United States and now Texas, the new variant has been suggested to spread more easily than other COVID-19 variants, including the Delta variant. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the severity of illness due to the variant is unclear due to the small number of cases, but breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated are expected.

This development in COVID-19 risk has led to interrupted travel plans for some students, including Alicia Park ‘22, who had planned to visit her sister in South Korea over winter break. 

“I was going to go back to Korea next Friday, for two weeks, but because of the new variant I couldn’t go back because [the Korean government] now [has a] ten-day quarantine. I would be staying in Korea for four days, so there’s no point in going,” Park said. “So I just canceled my plane ticket. I think I would have still gone [if there wasn’t a quarantine]. Before, if people were vaccinated, you didn’t need to go in quarantine. But now, with the new variant, they have a new policy.”

Despite the onset of the Omicron variant in the country, several students’  winter break time will still include holiday celebrations, along with travel to destinations both near and far. 

“I’m going to go to New York to visit my aunt, and she lives there with her Jewish husband so I’m probably going to celebrate Hanukkah with them,” Natalia Sosa ‘23 said.

And while it’s unlikely that Texas will see snow this December, or another blizzard as devastating as the one that took place last February, some students may be fortunate enough to experience wintry weather during the break while traveling out of state.

“I’m excited to go see the Smoky Mountains [in Tennessee] and celebrate the holidays in a snowy area,” Joanna Lin ‘23 said. “My family really likes to visit book stores, so it’ll be fun to buy new books in Tennessee too. I don’t think [Omicron will affect my travel] because my entire family will have their booster and we’re also going someplace with minimal people.”