More than a dozen universities around the US have already canceled next year’s spring break in an effort to limit reckless party trips from spawning coronavirus outbreaks.
University of Michigan, Purdue, Ohio State, University of Florida and Carnegie Mellon are among the growing list of schools that have already changed their 2021 schedules to eliminate the week-long break midway though the spring semester.
The changes came after dozens of students were suspected of bringing coronavirus back to campus following ill-advised spring break getaways as the pandemic took hold in March and April.
While administrators look for creative solutions to avoid the same trend next spring, a number of schools are already struggling to contain campus outbreaks as students continue to defy restrictions on social gatherings.
More than a dozen universities around the US have already canceled next year’s spring break in an effort to limit reckless party trips from spawning coronavirus outbreaks (file photo)
In the absence of a spring break, some schools have added single ‘break days’ throughout the spring semester to give students and faculty a chance to unwind.
Eliminating the break also means that the semester can start later or end earlier, shortening the amount of time students spend on campus.
WHERE IS SPRING BREAK CANCELED?
University of Tennessee
University of Florida
Texas Christian University
Kansas State University
University of Kentucky
Iowa State University
University of Iowa
University of Northern Iowa
Carnegie Mellon University
Ohio State University
University of Michigan
University of Wisconsin, Madison
For example, Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh – which is allowing students to choose how many classes they attend online versus in person – pushed back the start of its spring semester to February 1 and added five ‘break days’ in lieu of its usual ‘Spring Carnival’.
The University of Michigan followed suit last week as it removed the spring recess from academic calendars across all three of its campuses.
Officials said the change would ‘mitigate the possible risks associated with campus community members who may have traveled during the middle of the semester’.
At least four other schools in the Big Ten conference also canceled their breaks, including Purdue, Ohio State, University of Iowa and University of Wisconsin at Madison.
In the south, Baylor University, Texas Christian University, University of Tennessee and University of Kentucky have removed their spring breaks as well.
Concerns of outbreaks stemming from recess trips were bolstered by a recent study from Ball State and Vanderbilt University which found a link between student travel and increased coronavirus rates in counties with colleges.
Researchers in that study analyzed GPS smartphone data from more than seven million college students and determined that counties with more early spring break students had higher confirmed case growth rates than counties with fewer of those students.
The increase in case growth rates peaked two weeks after students returned to campus, the study found.
The changes came after dozens of students were suspected of bringing coronavirus back to campus following ill-advised spring break getaways as the pandemic took hold in March and April. Pictured: Spring breakers crowd a beach in Miami back in March
Some critics have expressed doubts over how effective canceling spring break will be as many schools are already experiencing major outbreaks just from holding in-person classes.
An alarming new study released Tuesday found that reopening college and university campuses for in-person instruction during late summer could be associated with more than 3,000 additional cases of COVID-19 per day in the US in recent weeks.
The findings call into question the practicality of face-to-face classes during the COVID-19 pandemic, and are important as colleges and universities plan their spring 2020 semesters, said researchers from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Indiana University, the University of Washington and Davidson College.
The findings are yet to be peer reviewed and have not yet been published online.
To track COVID-19 cases and study their association with students attending classes at college campuses, the team used location data from a database of cellphone users who agreed to share information. The information was gathered from July 15 to September 13.
They also looked at COVID-19 infection rates in counties with campuses, before and after colleges reopened and students arrived.
The researchers noted significant increases in counties where colleges had reopened for face-to-face instruction, especially in and around campuses with students who came from areas with higher incidences of COVID-19.
‘We are able to predict between 1,000 and 5,000 additional cases a day due to colleges reopening for face-to-face instruction, with our best estimate being somewhere around 3,219 cases a day,’ said Ana Bento, a co-author of the study, from Indiana University’s School of Public Health.
The study did not go into how many COVID-19 cases were ‘imported’ – or from students who arrived on campuses – and how many were local transmissions.
The team also pointed out that asymptomatic cases may not have been caught unless testing was done on campuses regardless of symptoms, and that the study did not look at measures taken by individual colleges.
As of Tuesday evening more than 6.89 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed in teh US and 200,786 people have died.
Source: Daily Mail