Spring break canceled in effort to ensure further student safety from COVID-19

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This year crowded beaches won’t be the sight for college students as a result of COVID-19.

On Oct. 1, 2020, students were told that the spring semester would now begin a week later (Jan. 19, 2021) by eliminating spring break. Done “in an effort to keep students, staff and its campus community safe during the pandemic” (announcement email from Media Relations Director Maureen Zambito), the second semester of the 2020-21 academic year will look a lot more like the current fall period; that in being more streamlined in nature and having more of a break before hand rather than during the actual school year.

Current WLU President Dr. Stephen Greiner offered this comment, “We want to be as proactive as possible in keeping COVID-19 at bay. We have decided to start our spring classes on Tuesday, Jan. 19, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We also decided to cancel spring break to avoid travel during the pandemic.” Tentative plans for details concerning move-in have not yet been released.

However, in speaking of these topics, we must recognize that everything has become rather just that during these unprecedented times – tentative. We never know just what might happen. COVID-19 cases could spike at any time, with a huge outbreak happening somewhere in the world, leading to a resurgence of infections – sending the world back into quarantine, or we could just all wake up one day and it could be gone, the memory only sounding something like a bad dream. For now, most professors are hopeful in planning for their spring semester classes to be less socially distanced, maybe even not requiring mask mandates. Of course they’re still being designed and built in accordance to the current protocol and safety procedures, but there’s an air of optimism surrounding most of us that, hopefully, the corona virus will be a thing of the past when spring rolls around.

As nice as all this sounds though, and as founded as the decision of canceling spring break might be, what happens when there’s a student who spends winter break in the Bahamas, or another out-of country resort and comes back with a cough? Are we taking the same risks in extending winter break as eliminating the latent spring one, especially when, in a time like winter, the disease is going to be arguably more rampant?

Only time will tell, but one thing remains clear for life on the Hilltop – no spring break.