As the coronavirus pandemic passes its first anniversary, the traditionally weeklong spring break for some Georgia colleges and universities looks different in 2021. For others, nothing has changed.
To curb COVID-19 surges from student travel, a number of Georgia universities canceled or modified spring breaks this year. Many, including the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and Atlanta’s HBCUs Morehouse and Spelman colleges and Clark Atlanta University, opted to stagger shorter instructional breaks or three-day weekends throughout the semester instead. The University of North Georgia also shortened its break to a four-day weekend.
Others, like Emory and Middle Georgia State universities, have entirely eliminated the break without any added off days. Emory president Gregory L. Fenves noted in an Oct. 15 announcement that the school added additional mental health resources and services for students, staff and faculty in light of the cancellation and compressed spring schedule. Columbus State University is following the same path, though the school added a week onto its winter break in exchange.
Many colleges and universities across the country, particularly those in states maintaining travel restrictions, have canceled spring break. Georgia universities made changes to their academic calendars before the beginning of the spring semester in anticipation of increased COVID-19 cases.
But some Georgia schools are following through with the weeklong break as planned. Thus far, the schools are not requiring students to take a COVID-19 test or to quarantine before returning to classes.
Georgia State University began its weeklong spring break on March 15. Though students are not required to take a COVID-19 test to return to campus, Georgia State is encouraging students to make use of the school’s free testing, said spokeswoman Andrea Jones. Augusta University, which will begin its break on April 5, Georgia Southern and the University of West Georgia are following the same policies.
Despite nationwide campus efforts to discourage travel and continued CDC guidance to stay home, students are still flocking to traditional destinations. Over 150 arrests were made within the first week of spring break in Miami Beach, prompting Mayor Dan Gelber to state many travelers “have forgotten that there’s a pandemic.” In a Monday press briefing, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said more travelers passed through airports on March 12 than any other day since last March.