To eliminate a possible COVID-19 breakout, The University of Tampa’s administration decided to restructure the upcoming Spring 2020 semester to be continuous from Tuesday, Jan. 19 to Thursday, May 6 with no week long spring break.
On Thursday, Oct. 1, a global email was sent to the entire UT community informing them of the cancellation of a full spring break week and it being replaced by scheduled “non-instructional reading days” once a month throughout the semester.
This announcement was met with backlash from most of the student body, as spring break is known to college students as a time to let loose after seven grueling weeks of classes. The administration believes that eliminating a full week-long break will diminish threats of virus transmission involved with traveling and partying that is typical of the average college student’s spring break.
The university has scheduled one day each month, Tuesday, Feb. 23; Wednesday, March 10; Friday, April 30; and Friday, May 7 where there will be no classes. The administration said, “We believe these days will provide a periodic break from classes while negating the threat of the virus.”
“While the pull of bars and clubs is strong, the vitality of the UT community is even stronger,” said Stephanie Russel Krebs, vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students at UT. A recent poll conducted by the popular Instagram account @barstoolutampa showed that 59% of students responded yes when asked if they are still intending to go out.
The temptation of partying has proven to be an issue at UT for some students. Even students who have been placed in quarantine in residence halls or at The Barrymore Hotel feel that there were no regulations truly imposed upon them.
“When I was there [The Barrymore Hotel] I felt like I could leave my room anytime I wanted,” said Nathan Hanson, a recently quarantined student. “I saw people going in and out at all hours of the day, and it wasn’t necessarily as serious of an environment as it was portrayed to be.”
Eric Cardenas, director of Public Information and Publications, sees the cancellation of spring break to be an effective outlet of minimizing the spread of COVID-19.
“Students have agreed to uphold the Spartan Shield Health and Safety Plan, which includes following quarantine and isolation requirements,” said Cardenas. “Residential students in quarantine and isolation receive multiple communications from the Office of Residence Life and Rapid-Trace regarding the importance of following safety precautions to protect others in the campus community. We are a community in this together to uphold our Spartan safety precautions.”
Some students are frustrated with the leniency of COVID-19 precautions and feel that canceling spring break will not be enough.
“I think it was the smartest decision the university could make given the current situation,” said Ashley Campbell, sophomore. “Honestly, I’m more upset that they decided to cancel it and give us ‘reading days.’ I feel as though students will treat it as long weekends and continue to go out and travel which seems counteractive.”
Other students find this decision completely unjustifiable. UT senior Maria Brigidi said, “I think it sucks because I personally believe that anyone willing to go out during spring break, is willing to go out here, so I don’t think it makes much of a difference.”
The Fall semester began with much to be determined for the fate of UT students’ education as it was not known how long the university could remain open at full capacity. The Spartan Shield Safety Plan has succeeded thus far in that the campus has not been shut down and the university claims to still provide a “top-notch education,” even with the extensive restrictions.
“We take our learning by doing mission seriously and are providing many opportunities for students to creatively engage in their learning environment with safety measures in place,” said Cardenas.
There is still much to be determined for the spring semester at UT and the administration is adamant about holding the student body accountable for their actions as they will have a direct impact on their education and on-campus life.