BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, TX – Officials in the Texas A&M University system have a plan to minimize the spread of COVID-19 as students head home for the holidays.

Chancellor John Sharp is asking leaders at all 11 campuses to encourage students to voluntarily get tested for COVID-19 before they leave campus for the Thanksgiving holiday.

“The greatest gift a student can give his or her family – including parents and grandparents – during this holiday season is the gift of a negative COVID test,” Chancellor Sharp said. “Let’s do all we can to stop this pandemic and get back to life as we knew it. Thanks to everyone who chooses to take a test before heading home.”

Sharp said he wants to make sure the families and communities are safe and avoid any unnecessary exposure to the coronavirus.

Texas has surpassed 20,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths as COVID-19 continues to surge in the United States. Researchers with Johns Hopkins University say the death count, reached Monday, is the second highest in the country, behind New York.