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.