MADISON, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin-Madison decided Monday to eliminate spring break next semester in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The university's Faculty Senate voted 140-7 to erase the nine-day break from the 2021 spring calendar. Officials said the move is designed to discourage students and staff from traveling long distances and bringing the virus that causes COVID-19 back to campus, officials said.
"I realize the slog 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. Spring break would be eliminated, but classes would not be held Saturday, March 27, which is the beginning of Passover; Friday, April 2, which is Good Friday; or Saturday, April 3, the day before Easter. Classes would end April 30, the same day as the current calendar.
The idea got a lukewarm reception from some senators and students. Sen. Kurt Paulsen, an urban planning professor, asked why the spring semester couldn't start on its regular schedule. Sen. John Mackay, a philosophy professor, warned that students will travel anyway. If the semester goes online, students will just log-on from Florida for a week, he predicted.
Kevin Jacobsen, shared governance campaign director for Associated Students of Madison, said spring break offers a respite from stress from students, which is worse in the spring with internship requests and other demands as the academic year ends.