Spring Break 2020 was a pivotal moment in higher education history. Upon learning about the rapidly spreading coronavirus, schools around the world shut down their campuses — many while students were still on spring break. College students abruptly went home and began navigating a world of remote learning.
A year later, schools still struggle to mitigate COVID-19 spread, and students are itching for the sunshine. As temperatures rise throughout the United States, what can you expect for Spring Break 2021?
Spring break canceled
The main approach that many universities have taken is simple: Spring Break 2021 is canceled. Some university officials chose to eliminate the vacation entirely to stop students from traveling during the annual academic respite. But spring break hotspots, like Miami Beach, are seeing a massive turnout of college spring breakers nonetheless.
With most of their classes over Zoom anyway, students complete coursework using their hotel’s WiFi and then heading out to the beach. While it’s easy to understand indulgent behavior after a very challenging year, reports suggest that students disregard COVID-19 safety precautions: skipping masks and overfilling hotel rooms. Public health officials warn against potential spikes on campus once students return.
Some institutions are trying a different approach. Rather than canceling spring break, UC Davis is offering students money to stay in town for their spring break. Students are experiencing a challenging year, and a few days off from the stress of assignments and midterms are no doubt needed.
Leaving campus to vacation is the bigger concern, as increased travel coincides with increased virus spread. Awarding some extra cash to stay close to home not only boosts the local economy, but also incentivizes students to stay nearby while still getting some needed self-care.
Match your mask to your swimsuit
Whether your school is actually observing spring break or not, there are a couple of precautions students should take. If possible, get your flu vaccine, and if available, your COVID-19 vaccine. Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Don’t share your drinks. Try to social distance. If you decide to travel and socialize, make sure to quarantine upon returning to campus to eliminate virus spread. If you’re feeling any symptoms at all, get tested.
Be creative with your spring break. Try camping instead of overfilling vacation rentals. Hit the beach but not the bar. There are plenty of creative ways to celebrate the season and keep campus safe.