After weeks of declining coronavirus cases, infections in some areas are creeping up again, “about 2% more this past week compared to the previous week,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
She issued this warning on Monday: “Please hear me clearly: At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained.”
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Dr. Walensky and other healthcare professionals are particularly concerned about the annual spring break ritual that brings together thousands of college students from Florida to California for a week of uncontrolled excess on beaches and in bars, most often without face coverings or observing proper distancing.
Miami Mayor Dan Gelber issued a warning to potential spring break crowds on National Public Radio: “If you’re coming here to do anything and you think this is an anything-goes place, just don’t come here. Please go somewhere else.”
‘Coronavirus Variants Threaten to Outpace Vaccinations’
Typical spring break revelry could lead to “countless more Americans getting infected as coronavirus variants threaten to outpace vaccinations,” writes Holly Yan on CNN Health.
“It’s the perfect storm,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told Yan.
“You’ve got the B.1.1.7 variant accelerating in Florida. You’ve got all these 20-year-old kids. None of them are going to have masks. They’re all going to be drinking. They’re having pretty close, intimate contact. And then, after that’s all done, they’re going to go back to their home states and spread the B.1.1.7 variant,” Dr. Hotez said.
Schools Proactively Take Steps to Prevent Returning to Campus and Spreading the Disease
Some schools, however, are proactively taking steps to control the possibility of students returning to campus and spreading the disease. At all-online American Public University System classes begin every six weeks so there is no formal spring break.
“Our students have become accustomed to attending all year round, and taking a break when they feel it necessary. They have the option of ‘stopping out.’ Our students will take a break based on what is occurring in their lives as they endeavor to achieve balance while working on their education,” said Dr. Marie Gould Harper, Dean of the Dr. Wallace E. Boston School of Business, American Public University System.
Texas A&M University, for example, has shortened its traditional week off to just a three-day weekend, according to the Associated Press. The University of Wisconsin Madison has done away with spring break altogether. Instead, students will get “a day off later in the semester.”
The University of Mississippi also canceled spring break; rather, the semester will end a week early.
As part of a city-campus partnership, students at the University of California at Davis could get a $75 Spring Break Grant if they agree to stay in town and not travel during the break time period, ABC Eyewitness News reported.
Students must submit a proposal and formal application to be considered for the Spring Break Grants, which are linked to different businesses within the Davis community.
Washburn U Adds Two ‘Wellness Days’ Following School Decision to Cancel Spring Break
According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, Washburn University added two “wellness” days to its spring semester calendar after students urged the university to offer some sort of interregnum following the school’s decision to cancel spring break.
“The university had originally canceled spring break to cut down on student travel and exposure, following a recommendation from the university’s calendar committee. Other universities in Kansas have made similar moves to cut down on breaks and keep their semesters as contiguous as possible,” the newspaper explained.
Yale Professors Overhaul Syllabi for Online Learning
Hana Galijasevic, a junior at Yale, told Teen Vogue that her professors assigned work over school breaks in years past. “This semester, professors have overhauled their syllabi for online learning, but some of these changes have, perhaps inadvertently, created a heavier workload.”
She said for one of her classes this semester, the professor recorded lectures which students were required to watch before logging in to attend another virtual session at the scheduled meeting time. She says it feels like attending class twice.
And not to be outdone by its arch rival, the Crimson reported last October that Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences would not hold spring break in 2021, “reallocating the five days of break as planned ‘wellness days’ throughout the spring semester.”