Spring Break is a no-go at UNG

  • Michaela Follett and Chris Potter mask up and walk to class at the University of North Georgia. The local students weren’t  pleased to hear that their Spring Break has been cancelled for the year.
    Michaela Follett and Chris Potter mask up and walk to class at the University of North Georgia. The local students weren’t pleased to hear that their Spring Break has been cancelled for the year.

Students at the University of North Georgia were in for a shock recently when they received an important email: There will be no official Spring Break this school year.
For the 2021 spring semester, rather than an entire week off, UNG officials have decided to create “Easter Holiday,” meaning two days will be added to Easter weekend from Thursday, April 1st through Sunday, April 4th.
Traditionally, the shortening of Spring Break has been due to inclement weather. This time, however, the change is related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  
“To support our ability to do that through spring semester, we will continue to adapt and take necessary steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission,” said Kate Maine, Vice President of University Relations
Currently, much of UNG’s instruction is online or hybrid, with reduced in person classes. This format is expected to continue next semester in order to decrease the transmission rate on campus.
After the shock of the initial announcement wore off, students were left wondering why the decision came seemingly so early.
“I don’t know, things could change. I just feel like they should have waited a little longer,” said Christopher Potter, a political science student.
When polling students, the most common sentiment was that the decision was in response to the off-campus party that occurred shortly before school started in August. Short clips of the party, which showed a large crowd not wearing masks or social distancing, circulated on social media and garnered national news attention.
“...There should not be any sort of penalty for the party,” said Samantha Allen, a third year English major.  “Whether or not it made the news it was on private property. It was not school grounds,”
“We are not in elementary school and we are not children,” said Logan Mastaw, a senior Criminal Justice student. “… Having a short spring break will not help anything but make the school look like the bad guy. We barely have in person classes anyways, if someone wants to party they are going to.”  
Maine says the decision was made in late August on the recommendation of the offices of Student Affairs and Academic Affairs in order to curtail travel.
“Traditionally, members of the university community travel widely during a week-long spring break,” she said. “If individuals travel broadly and then return to campus, particularly in early spring when flu and other illnesses are still prevalent, it could increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the UNG community.”
The decision also affects programming put on by the school. The office of Student Life typically offers Alternative Service Break, where students spend a week  volunteering on a project. In the past, it has included cleaning up trails and replanting a heritage garden.
Like the fall semester, Student Life staff have been challenged to offer creative, hybrid programming that meets the needs of our students in this new environment.
“One significant impact is that we will not be able to offer an Alternative Service Break program as we’ve done in the past.” said Mallory Rodriguez, director of Student Life.
Maine does not anticipate a reversal of the decision.
“Operating within the COVID-19 pandemic requires us to be flexible,” she said. “However, we do not anticipate reversing this decision later in the semester.”
This change is only for UNG’s campuses and for the spring 2021 semester.  
Universities across the country have cancelled spring break as well, but UNG has been one of the first to do so in Georgia.