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SDSU cancels spring break, opts for rest and recovery days

Posted at 6:00 AM, Dec 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 09:06:39-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- San Diego State University canceled spring break 2021 on Tuesday night, citing concerns of rising COVID-19 cases.

Instead of the traditional nine day break, students will get four "rest and recovery days" scattered throughout the semester.

The days will create multiple long weekends for students and faculty.

The decision was made during a University Senate meeting. The vote was 44 to 28. The school senate is made up of faculty, staff and student representatives.

Within hours of the decision, an online petition gained thousands of signatures from students asking for the school to bring back spring break.

In a lengthy email sent to the entire campus, school officials explained the decision was made in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19,citing health and safety as the schools top priority. Officials say the rest and recovery days are for no instruction, assignments, deadlines or exams.

Students argued that the rest and recovery days are not enough to give them a mental break from school, many arguing that it was best to have the longer, 9-day break instead.

Read the full email from SDSU official below:

Dear SDSU community,

The rapidly worsening conditions nationally and throughout California regarding the spread of the COVID-19 virus is deeply concerning. In San Diego alone, more than a thousand have been hospitalized in intensive care units with nearly 5,000 total hospitalizations. Although a vaccine is on the horizon, indicators suggest this deadly virus will continue through the winter and into the spring.

In recent weeks, faculty and public health experts have conducted several COVID-19 modeling scenarios following the recent surge in California. Infectious disease, epidemiology, and public health experts throughout SDSU also consulted with those across the California State University system, and with our county health officials.

Following much of this research and consultation, and the recent examples set by other universities across the U.S., the University Senate, composed of faculty, staff and student members, voted in favor of modifying our SDSU Flex [] plan for 2021 spring. We are spreading out the five-day spring recess normally scheduled for mid-March. This will involve introducing four new rest and recovery days over the course of the semester, along with preserving the fifth day off in March in observation of César Chávez Day. This preserves the same number of non-instructional days through multiple breaks. Rest and recovery days are specifically designated for no instruction, no assignments, no deadlines, and no exams. Office hours, meetings and committee obligations will also be suspended during each rest and recovery day.

More information regarding additional mental health supports and services throughout the Spring term, in addition to what the university currently offers [], will also be available and widely shared.

Because our highest priority remains the health and safety of all members of the SDSU community, and as aligned with the strong recommendation of the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA), we strongly believe that the modified spring 2021 plan will help us to continue mitigating the COVID-19 risk within our community.This calendar change, which will be implemented only for spring 2021, are as follows:

Wednesday, Jan. 20: First day of classes
Friday, Feb. 12: Rest and recovery day
Monday, March 8: Rest and recovery day
Tuesday, March 30: Rest and recovery dayWednesday,
March 31: Observance of César Chávez Day (Campus closed)
Thursday, April 15: Rest and recovery day
Thursday, May 6, 2021: Last day of classes
Friday, May 7, through Thursday, May 13: Final examinations to be held
Friday, May 21: Last day of spring semester, grades due from instructors (11 p.m. deadline)

The emergency calendar change decision follows tonight’s University Senate meeting, during which the majority of members approved the emergency calendar change, and follows three major developments:

First, a major study indicating that students who left their U.S. campuses during spring recess in 2020 returned to infect others, regardless of whether they were involved in in-person classes.

Secondly, public health officials are urging the U.S. higher education community, specifically, to avoid spring recess in the interest of public safety. Already, a large and growing number of universities in Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Texas and other states have made similar decisions. Our own San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency encouraged the same action this week.

Lastly, within our own state, Gov. Gavin Newsom indicated yesterday that current projections indicate that hospitalizations may increase by two to three times the current amount in one month without any major changes in behavior or interventions. He is considering other more dramatic restrictions.A number of other spring elements are important to indicate with this message:

Instructional days: Our plan allows us to retain the same number of instructional days. We are not adding or reducing the number of days classes meet.

Payday periods: To our employees, the modified academic calendar will not impact your paydays; you will be paid based on the regularly occurring schedule.

COVID-19 Testing: Students living in on-campus housing, taking in-person classes or involved in university research activities will continue to be required to regularly test for COVID-19 in spring 2021.

We are grateful to students, faculty and staff who have respected public health guidance and university protocols, and have protected themselves and others in their daily actions. Each of us is inspired by everything we have accomplished and created over this 10-month period in service to our students. Let us remember this is an extraordinary time with many challenges. We will continue to solicit other thoughtful ideas and public health guidance as we complete our fall semester and approach the spring semester.
Wil Weston, Ph.D. University Senate Chair J. Luke Wood, Ph.D. Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity