U moves spring break to April at Twin Cities campus because of COVID-19


U moves spring break to April at Twin Cities campus because of COVID-19

The University of Minnesota has modified spring break at its five campuses because of the COVID-19 pandemic, moving the weeklong vacation from March to April for Twin Cities and Rochester students and spreading the days across the semester for those attending Duluth, Morris and Crookston.

Additionally, U leaders say social distancing and masking requirements will remain in place this spring and professors will again be given the choice of teaching online or in person.

“Each campus engaged in extensive consultation with their respective communities and governance structures,” U Executive Vice President and Provost Rachel Croson said of the spring decisions during a Board of Regents meeting Thursday.

Students and faculty at the Twin Cities and Rochester campuses “strongly preferred” keeping the five-day break, Croson said. Spring break at the two campuses will now be held April 5-9. It will coincide with the spring breaks of Minneapolis’ and St. Paul’s public school districts.

At the university’s Morris campus, spring break days will be broken up and spread across the semester. Crookston’s spring break will be replaced with one midweek study day plus two extra study days to be taken between the last day of classes and the week of final exams. Duluth students will take the Monday and Tuesday of their spring break week off, with the remaining three days to be used as study days between the end of spring instruction and exams week.

The spring break delay at the Twin Cities and Rochester campuses will allow for more instruction to be completed before students take time off. There is concern that students may travel away during the vacation period and potentially carry COVID-19 back to campus.

In the coming months, administrators will decide whether to resume some in-person instruction after spring break or fully pivot to distance learning, as they are doing after Thanksgiving break this fall.

The U’s spring break plan diverges from those of its Big Ten counterparts. The University of Wisconsin, the University of Iowa, Ohio State University and Purdue University have scrapped the spring recess entirely to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The spring semester may not bring the return to normalcy students had hoped for.

Unless public health circumstances change, masks will be required in campus facilities and 6-foot social distancing will be maintained in classrooms, meaning there will be less space for in-person instruction. Faculty will have autonomy over whether to teach their classes online or in person. The same conditions are in place this fall, and about 70% of classes at the Twin Cities campus are being taught online.

 

Twitter: @ryanfaircloth

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