Ohio State University canceled spring break 2021 because of Covid-19

A lone figure walks across a normally busy area of campus near the 'Oval' at Ohio State University on August 13, 2020 in Columbus, Ohio. By Dakin Andone, CNN

(CNN) -- The Ohio State University announced it will cancel spring break next semester in an effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the university community.

In a letter Friday to students, faculty and staff, Executive Vice President and Provost Bruce A. McPheron said the university would instead have two instructional breaks with no classes on February 9 and March 31.

"This approach will keep our community together throughout the semester and reduce travel-related exposures," McPheron explained.

One OSU student told CNN affiliate WSYX that he was disappointed but understood the reasoning behind the decision.

"Definitely not the best news to hear, but I think it's the smarter decision," he said, adding, "It allows kids to just stay in their dorms or in their off-campus housing and just stay safe."

As of Thursday, OSU has reported 2,097 student cases of Covid-19, with a test positivity rate of about 3.9%, according to the university's Covid-19 dashboard.

Earlier this year, while the country was still experiencing the initial wave of coronavirus, some students and their families opted to stay home to stay safe.

But others ignored warnings and flocked to beaches. One college spring break trip to a Mexican beach resort in mid-March ultimately led to 64 cases of Covid-19, according to University of Texas at Austin researchers.

OSU is just weeks into the fall semester after beginning a mix of in-person and online classes on August 25, but McPheron said he wanted to shed light on the upcoming spring semester so students, faculty and staff could plan ahead.

OSU plans to stick with a blend of in-person and online classes next semester, but the first week of classes beginning January 11 will be held online to allow people "ample time to quarantine prior to any in-person sessions."

"While there were many adjustments to our plans over the summer, we hope that our experience this semester will allow for a smoother and more predictable plan heading into spring semester," McPheron wrote.

OSU will continue to explore how to expand in-person activities in the spring, but those decisions will be dependent on the status of Covid-19 in the community, McPheron's message said.

"As a default," he added, "all students, faculty and staff should expect the same sort of comprehensive approach that is in place this fall -- including testing, contact tracing and personal behaviors such as face masks, physical distancing and hand-washing."

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