By Cameron Riser
With the fall semester in full swing, colleges are already looking ahead to the spring term. Although many universities have high hopes for a more standard second half of the school year, it has become obvious that it is not yet time for things to return entirely back to normal.
Semester scheduling is one such example. The University of Mississippi released its spring 2021 calendar last week, and like many other universities, it included the cancelation of spring break.
Chancellor Glenn Boyce announced in a public letter that the cancelation is intended to shorten the spring semester in hopes of better-protecting students, faculty members and staff from COVID-19.
“In spite of the many challenges we have faced and continue to tackle since the onset of the pandemic, I’m grateful and humbled by the incredible commitment and determination of our university community to look after all of our students as well as our faculty and staff,” Boyce said.
Normally, spring break is considered a time for students to relax, take a vacation or party, but this year will look different.
Plans had to be postponed for Dallas, Texas sophomore Ellie Ducharme.
“I am very sad that spring break was canceled. I had planned to go to El Salvador with Campus Crusades (Cru) for a mission trip,” Ducharme said. “It’s crazy to think last spring break we got the news of COVID and school closing and now it’s still affecting us.”
Schools including the University of Tennessee, Baylor University, Ohio State University, the University of Florida, the University of Michigan, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Kentucky, and more have all joined in canceling the holiday week.
Reducing the spring semester could mitigate the spread of the virus and condense the duration of time spent on campus.
Junior Andrew Miramon from Shreveport, Louisiana, said he understood the University’s decision.
“It is definitely sad to not be able to go on a cool trip with my friends, but I do understand the University’s reasoning behind wanting to keep kids on campus and shortening our spring term,” Miramon said.
Tupelo senior, Avery Goggans said, “As college students we go non-stop every day and so to not have that break where it comes at such a convenient time will be an adjustment.”
The University of Mississippi administration continues to take precautions to help alleviate the risk of COVID-19, even if it means sacrificing the traditional spring break week.
“We remain committed to delivering the education, experience and value that is synonymous with Ole Miss,” said Boyce.
The established public health protocols and parameters outlined in the university’s Campus Ready Plan will remain in effect, including wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
Spring calendar revisions follow a similar playbook for the fall.
In addition to what is already in place, classroom capacity and engagement requirements for the fall will continue into the spring semester. Classes will begin as originally scheduled on Jan. 19, 2021.