Depending on how the coronavirus has progressed in 2021, Elon University may have to re-evaluate whether students, faculty and staff will have a traditional or modified spring break. As of now, according to senior administration at the university, how spring break will be conducted is undecided. It is currently listed on the university's academic calendar as the traditional one week off.
According to Provost Aswani Volety, the decision to have a Spring Break depends on how things are going on campus, locally in Alamance County and nationally. Volety said that if infection rates were going down and there was an effective therapeutic or vaccine, then a traditional spring break could happen. On the other hand, if infection rates are rising and the vaccine is delayed or not working, then Spring Break may have to be reconsidered.
“It'll be similar to what we're doing this fall,” Volety said. “We try and spread out those days, [to] make sure the students are getting breaks.”
Dr. Ginette Archinal, Elon University’s medical director, said she doesn’t know if the university can make the decision for Spring Break this early; however, there are many other diseases and sicknesses that she is usually worried about surfacing over spring break, coronavirus is now one of them.
Archinal said in order for Elon to have a safe Spring Break, there would need to be a sense of responsibility among Elon University community members and the university would need to effectively communicate how important this responsibility is.
“It's all about just understanding that we don't have a right to infect other people,” Archinal said. “And that goes for Fall Break, Spring Break, Winter Break, you know any of these periods.”
The university plans to assess how the two days off in the fall impact the school and the students. The purpose of the one day fall break was to give students a day off in the middle of the week; however, from a health perspective, Archinal said she was hoping that over the modified fall break, people would only take that one day.
Jana Lynn Patterson, dean of students, said that the university would continue to consult with the health department and the infectious disease consultants from Cone Health when it comes to Spring Break. Patterson also said she advises students to wait to plan trips for Spring Break because things may change as time goes on.
Britt Mobley, freshman and Student Government Association senator for the class of 2024, said he believes that the university should give the students a week long break in an effort to uphold a positive culture around mental health.
Despite wanting a traditional spring break, Britt said he believes that cases will rise significantly on campus, if it was granted, because he thinks that students will be more careless in effort to have a good time. Britt said he would prefer to have a small break every week for students; for example, giving the students one day off every week for five weeks.
“I wasn’t a fan of the Fall Break modification,” Britt said. “I would like to see a small break every week. Possibly separating the 5 consecutive days and just giving us a day off every week for 5 weeks so that students are still able to decompress and aren’t just doing work for the spring semester.”
Elon’s peer institutions also have their respective plans for spring break listed on their academic calendar. Out of thirteen of Elon’s peer institutions: Bucknell University and Butler University are not having spring break, seven others are having a week long spring break and four are having a modified spring break.