CHICAGO (CBS) — College students were arriving home Tuesday for Thanksgiving – some on the way, some already there.

But with a COVID-19 surge going on, families have been put in awkward positions families to quarantine and stay safe – while also seeing their loved ones.

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On Tuesday night, CBS 2’s Jermont Terry had a look at one family’s extreme holiday tactics.

The Johnson family, like so many others, has been gearing up for Thanksgiving 2020. But this year, mom Rameka is doing things differently.

“I’m going to make some banana pudding, and Maya will not be my food chef this year,” she said.

Ramaya, Maya for short, is Rameka Johnson’s daughter – and was picked up this week from her first semester at Augustana College.

Adjusting to being away was already challenging. Now, Maya has had to come home to even more separation.

Rameka Johnson was not able to give her daughter a hug upon picking the young woman up.
“I was not,” she said. “I was not, and that’s disappointing.”

And a family hug will not be happening anytime soon.

“Honestly, it sucks. It sucks not be able to just tackle your older brother or your little brother, or just, you know, give them hug,” Ramaya said.

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Ramaya tested negative for COVID-19 before leaving campus. Yet, she is going an extra step to keep her parents and brothers safe.

“I’m going to quarantine for about two weeks, two and a half weeks, just to make sure everything’s OK before I interact with my family,” she said.

Despite being home, Ramaya keeps more than six feet of distance. That allowed mom to come up with a unique way to get her attention behind closed doors – through the use of a microphone.

“I can hear her in my room,” Ramaya said.

While they find some humor in this new normal, yet unusual, Thanksgiving, the Johnsons remain thankful.

“We’re thankful that we’re safe, and we’re just thankful to have each other most of all,” Rameka Johnson said.

They hope others understand the seriousness of a visit – even around immediate family.

“I don’t want to get them sick, honestly. And it’s not worth it, honestly,” Ramaya said. “I’ll be able to – I’ll be able to interact with them one day. I just can’t do it right now.”

The Johnson family is doing what it can to flatten the curve. As for Ramaya, it seems like she’s taking the pandemic extra-seriously – and we should note that she just so happens to be majoring in public health.

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