WACO, TX — Baylor University has altered their fall semester, meaning all in-person classes will now end on Wednesday, Nov. 25.
School officials say it was easier to end in-person classes early rather than to allow students to return between the Thanksgiving and Christmas break.
With many expected to travel for the holidays, the university is offering free COVID-19 testing for students and staff who are wanting to be tested before or after their vacation.
Joel Schiesler is a junior and traveling to Beaumont for his time away. He says he's thankful he doesn't have to get on a plane this year.
"Actually, being an in-state student, it gives me the flexibility to drive home instead of flying," Schiesler said.
Another student who could have flown home but instead is forgoing that option is sophomore Torrie Brodish.
"I didn't want to expose my family to being on an airplane and then coming back here, and I think that I... if I did go back home I wouldn't want to come back here to bring more COVID," she said.
Brodish has her family in Colorado but is spending her break in Houston with a family friend. Even though she's driving, she is still planning to get tested before and after her vacation.
"As far as doing it beforehand just so I'm not spreading it to my family friend and then after I can be very confident I am not going to bring it home as well," Brodish said.
Scheisler is also taking part in the free testing. As a Baylor Tour Guide, it is a requirement to get one completed before returning to work.
"The free testing has given us as a student body the opportunity to keep us all on campus," Schiesler said. "We keep saying it's for the greater good because one student can affect the whole student body."
Baylor University posted a campus-wide announcement for the upcoming holiday travel saying;
"Our campus has recently experienced a steady increase of cases since the end of October, including more than 100 active cases over the past several days for the first time since mid-September.
While students should continue with their normal class routines, we urge everyone to be tested, limit your social interactions from now through Thanksgiving and be even more vigilant in your efforts to minimize viral spread through masking, distancing, avoiding crowds and hand washing."
As of Monday, Baylor has 138 active cases. Since November 5, they have consistently had more than 100 active cases each day.
Between October 19 and November 4, there were cases between 71 to 98 per day.
As Baylor University continues to offer free testing to all on campus, it's brought relief to those like Brodish and Schiesler.
"Knowing that Baylor is trying their hardest to prevent the spread, I feel very safe being able to come back here," Brodish said
In-person learning will not be offered again until the Spring Semester. The start date was pushed back to Tuesday, January 19 after Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The COVID-19 Holiday updated from Baylor sent to students can be found here.