Colleges and universities across the United States have been taking steps to lower the chances of their students spreading coronavirus around campus and in their communities. On many campuses, this has also included canceling Spring Break 2021.
According to Politico, dozens of schools have already re-worked the 2020-2021 academic calendar to eliminate spring break, recognized by many students as an extended opportunity to travel or party, to tamp down on unwanted community spread.
“The rationale is straightforward,” Colin Riley, a spokesperson for Boston University, told the news agency. “We wanted to reduce the likelihood of travel in the middle of the semester and also wanted to retain the scheduled end of the semester so that people wouldn’t need to change post-school-year plans.”
To account for the lack of spring break, Boston University has tacked on an extra week to the winter break before the spring term, pushing the start of the term to January 25. Other institutions have decided to give students a couple of days off throughout the spring term instead of extending winter break, according to InsideHigherEd.
The Ohio State University, for example, opted to add two one-day “instructional breaks” to the spring term in lieu of the standard spring break. “This approach will keep our community together throughout the semester and reduce travel-related exposures,” a school official told students in an email, according to the local newspaper Cleveland.
Many universities have also implemented requirements for social distancing, with punishments for rule-breakers. Before the academic year even started, Ohio State suspended 228 students for breaking rules regarding social distancing and gathering.
Northeastern University dismissed 11 students from a study abroad-type program, which was hosted one mile from campus, for breaking social distancing guidelines in their dorms. While the students will be allowed to return next semester, they were not going to be granted refunds for their $36,500-per-semester program.
According to the Northeastern Student Newspaper, the eleven students have since been allowed to credit their $27,760 in tuition fees to the following semester. However, they will not receive a refund for the rest of the program cost, which went to boarding fees.
Families for two of the eleven students have reportedly retained a lawyer. “If you do the math on the nightly rate, that would probably make the Westin the best hotel in the entire world. We’ll evaluate the options and that’s all I can say for the moment,” said the attorney.
Pandemic-associated changes aside, new data on college enrollment suggests that fewer students are enrolling in colleges and universities across the country. Figures from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center show that first-year students have enrolled in college at a 16% lower rate than first-years in 2019.
The data shows a particularly negative trend for two-year community colleges, which experienced a roughly 23% drop in enrollment among first-year students over last year, a time when community colleges showed a 1.4% increase in enrollment. In all, total enrollment is down at community colleges across the nation by 9.4% over last year.
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