Coronavirus at universities

University of Wisconsin-Madison May Eliminate Spring Break

Dropping spring break would discourage students and staff from traveling long distances and bringing the virus that causes COVID-19 back to campus, officials said.

generic beach waves
Shutterstock

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is considering eliminating spring break next semester to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The university's Faculty Senate is expected to vote on revising the 2021 spring calendar at a meeting Monday.

Dropping spring break would discourage students and staff from traveling long distances and bringing the virus that causes COVID-19 back to campus, officials said.

Members of the University Committee were receptive when university leaders floating the idea last month.

“I realize the slog of of going through a full 15 week semester with no break would be challenging, but given the vagaries of the pandemic, particularly in cold weather when people are indoors and the like. ... I’m enthusiastically supportive,” said Provost John Karl Scholz.

The proposal has classes starting on Jan. 25, a week later than currently scheduled, the State Journal reported.

Spring break would be eliminated, but classes would not be held Friday, April 2, which is Good Friday. Classes would end April 30, the same day as the current calendar.

The virus has been running rampant on Wisconsin college campuses. UW-Madison and UW-La Crosse have suspended in-person undergraduate instruction for two weeks, citing an increase in COVID-19 cases.

According to data from UW-Madison, 2,138 students and 29 employees have been infected since Aug. 6. Nearly 400 students at the state's flagship campus are under investigation for violating coronavirus-related protocols with at least eight facing possible suspension, Chancellor Rebecca Blank told reporters during a video conference Monday.

Blank spent most of the video conference defending the decision to open the campus this fall, saying students were coming back to off-campus housing regardless and they learn better in person. She said she would make the same decision again.

“Even if we went all online, the majority of our students would be here,” she said. “This issue isn't going to resolve itself by telling everyone to go home. This is their home."

The deadline for a full tuition refund expired Friday, but Blank said the university is considering extending that window.

State health officials on Monday confirmed 771 new cases of the coronavirus, for a total of 89,956 positive tests. No new deaths were reported, leaving the death toll at 1,210.

According to data collected by John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, as of Sunday Wisconsin ranked 13th in the nation in the most new cases per capita over the last two weeks at 238.2 per 100,000 people.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us