Ohio – The threat of COVID-19 continues on college campuses across the state.
That’s leading many universities to look ahead to spring break and decide to either cancel or adjust the vacation time in an effort to stop the spread by limiting travel opportunities.
Aru Gupta is a junior at Baldwin Wallace University. The international student is from India. She hasn’t seen her family since December. As the student body president, she has a seat at the table when decisions are made.
“People like me—people who are not going back home, people who are scared of the pandemic—don’t want to get sick. I am sure it makes them feel better knowing that campus will still be safe after spring,” said Gupta.
The cancellation of spring break is a tough pill to swallow for many college students, but Gupta saw this coming and feels it’s the right call.
“I would rather miss one week of spring break and stay safe and finish out the semester strong and hopefully have, like, graduation ceremony come May,” she said.
Baldwin Wallace will not have a traditional spring break in 2021. Instead, winter break is extended one week, and there are three scheduled days off sprinkled throughout the semester. Plus, there’s a “Good Friday Break” on April 2.
“That’s definitely a reasonable compromise. Obviously, like a week off would have been ideal, but given that we are still in the middle of a pandemic, it’s definitely still reasonable,” said Gupta.
“They’re a little upset that they don’t get to be in class every day all the time, but they very much value this in person, and we wanted to make sure that we went as long as we could in person. So, the price for that was not having the spring break,” said Baldwin Wallace University Provost Stephen Stahl.
Stahl says the spring break cancellation was the best choice to protect everyone. He says leaders worried students would travel and potentially bring the virus back to campus if the university didn’t take away the option.
“Yeah, I think that was a real concern. You know, you’re only young once,” he said. “We don’t see things changing in the spring semester, so we wanted to make the decision as early as we could so students would not get those reservations to South Padre Island or Ft. Lauderdale, or wherever and would be able to plan for the spring semester as best we know it’s going to be.”
Kent State University is taking a different approach to solve the same problem. Kent State announced plans to move spring break to a later date. Instead of the weeklong break beginning March 29, it will now be April 12 through April 18. Afterwards, students will finish up classes remotely until the end of the year. Finals week begins May 6. This change is an effort to quote “reduce transmission of COVID-19 because of excessive spring travel.”
Cleveland State University leaders say they have not yet determined if there will be any changes to spring break. “Spring recess” is currently planned for the second week of March.
Same goes for the University of Akron; there’s no decision yet on whether there will be any adjustments to spring break. Right now, it’s slated to be March 22 through March 28.