The University of Oregon is asking students not to travel over spring break this year, due to ongoing concerns of COVID-19 spread in Lane County.
In a message to students last week, UO’s Dean of Students and Associate Vice President for Student Life Kris Winter asked students not to travel over the break, which is March 20-28. UO will be holding a “Week of Wellness” activities in town to encourage students to stay put.
Last Friday, Lane County surpassed 10,000 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, with the county reporting 10,067 cases as of Monday. Lane County has been reporting fewer new cases for the past couple of weeks than previously, with no new deaths since Feb. 12.
UO’s count for new COVID-19 cases among students and staff also has decreased in the last month, falling from 124 cases on Feb. 1 to 47 cases the week of Feb. 15, which were all students.
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There were notable increases in the case counts for people associated with the university in the fall, when many students first returned to the area. The case counts decreased as fall term went on, and then spiked again mid-January when students returned from winter break.
The case count for UO so far this term peaked the week of Jan. 18 with 172 cases. Of those, 103 were off-campus students, 68 were on-campus students and one was an employee.
Since then, the number of cases has steadily dropped again.
“Spring break is inherently different from the fall term and winter break, during which many students were traveling to celebrate the holidays,” said spokesperson Kay Jarvis in a statement.
UO has been in a hybrid model this year, with most classes being taught remotely or online, but others such as music courses and labs being in person. UO moved all of its courses online for the weeks between Thanksgiving and winter break for students who wanted to travel home earlier for the holidays, Jarvis said, but this break will be different.
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“We are asking students to not travel during the one week off between winter and spring terms,” she stated. “Like fall and winter, spring term includes primarily remote instruction. The modest number of in-person courses — labs, studio experiences, etc. — will be in-person from the first week, which we hope will help deter spring break travel.”
If students have to travel, UO is asking them to take precautions before returning to campus. In her email to students, Winter urged them to schedule a COVID-19 test to happen three to five days after they return to the area, and quarantine and wear a mask (even with roommates) until hearing whether the test is negative.
UO also has pulled together activities for the week of spring break in hopes it will keep students in town. Some of these include self-guided hikes, a campus scavenger hunt and a Spikeball tournament.
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