Arizona College Is Scaring Kids Into Sending Cardboard Versions of Themselves Home for Turkey Day

FILE- In this May 24, 2018, file photo a Delta Air Lines passenger jet plane, a Boeing 717-200 model, approaches Logan Airport in Boston. Delta is partnering with a pet travel pod startup, as it changes its prices and policy for transporting passengers' animal companions, the airline announced Tuesday, Oct. 2. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Just over a week ago, administrators at a private, Christian university in the Phoenix area started seeing an uptick in coronavirus cases among its students. According to the Arizona Republic:

Grand Canyon University said it saw an increase of cases connected to Halloween parties and has begun to strongly encourage its students to stay on campus for Thanksgiving in response to the latest numbers.

[…]

As of Nov. 8, GCU reports a total of 175 cases currently considered positive. Of these, 169 are students and 6 are employees.

Should parents and students be spooked by this All Hallow’s Eve “increase in cases”? If we’re all caught up in our emotions, sure thing. And, of course, no one’s hoping anyone catches the China plague, especially so close to Thanksgiving. There were 175 cases. And the enrollment is 23,000 students, which GCU, wrote me in an email, includes 5,000 who aren’t even in classes (doing online-only learning).

Despite the math, like educators across the country, GCU has chosen to take things a step further. While students should be anticipating being reunited with their families for the four-day break, the school’s scaring them and their well-meaning loved ones with the idea that they might carry COVID-19 with them on a holiday visit home. And here’s their bright idea to “fix” things. Phoenix’s KPHO/KTVK reported that:

For less than 30 bucks, students are sending giant cutouts to their families they can’t see over the holiday.

The station spoke to Renate Spilger, apparently a faculty member and/or employee in the school’s marketing department, who enthused about keeping kids and families separated.

 “I said, ‘why don’t we offer the students that can’t go home, to print a cutout for them and have them sit at the table with their families,'” said Spilger.

Also, one of the young students interviewed admits to the reporter he hasn’t been home for Turkey Day in three years.

So, this ain’t really about Wuhan flu. And in one instance where it kinda-sorta might be, student Raven Hayakawa says her grandmother is

“in critical health and she has diabetes and….a bunch of other health problems. So, we try not to see her, in case we do have COVID.”

Ask Janice Dean how waiting to see her family turned out.

Here’s video of the full story, via KPHO/KTVK:

Readers might not be all that surprised by students buying into this fear porn, though, when we’ve seen noted epidemiologists like Forbes travel writer Suzanne Rowan Kelleher warning Americans earlier this month that they’ll kill Aunt Bea if they take a trip home for Thanksgiving. The headline spells it out: “Thanksgiving Travel Will Create The Next Big Superspreader Event, Fear Experts.”

Now, are these the same “experts” who tried to convince us in October that Donald Trump rallies this summer were superspreader events? Possibly. But the officials Kelleher’s “cautionary tale” most cleaves to for maximum scariness factor? The Canadian government, which tried to coax its citizens to not celebrate their October 12 feast with family and friends.

Canadians celebrated their Thanksgiving holiday less than a month ago, and now the country is seeing a dramatic surge in cases across the country.

Oh, and who else’s sage advice does Forbes think we should listen to? New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whom my colleague Sister Toldjah shared earlier today is now the worse for wear after Ted Cruz addressed him. C’mon, be serious!

What do you think? Is sending a 2-d copy of oneself a good alternative for students and their family members — or do you agree that any university pushing this is bordering on pathology, riling up the young people it’s supposed to focus on educating? Leave your thoughts in the comments area below!

Correction [3:22 p.m. EST, 11/20/20]: numbers cited from the Arizona Republic article were the incorrect ones; ASU had 252 cases out of 74,500 students, a rate of 0.003. The GCU numbers have been corrected in the body. 

GCU’s Office of Communications and Public Relations Executive Director Bob Romantic also provided these stats in a subsequent email to RedState:

There are currently 202 ACTIVE cases of coronavirus connected to the ground campus (196 students and 6 employees)

The total of ALL positive cases for the fall semester since Aug. 1 is 927 (902 students, 25 employees). Of those 927 cases, about two-thirds have occurred in the month of November (the increase in cases since Halloween weekend you referenced).

Enrollment connected to the ground campus at GCU is 23,000. From that, 5,000 students have decided to stay home this semester and take classes in an online format. And 2,000 are evening cohort students who are also taking classes remotely this semester. So the total number of students currently connected to the ground campus is 16,000. Based on that total, the positivity rate is about 1% for active cases (which is still low) or 5.6% for all positive cases during the fall semester.