Boise State announces new spring break schedule amidst positive COVID-19 cases

On Oct. 26, Dr. Tony Roark, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, announced their plans for spring break 2021.

According to the email sent to students, Boise State’s spring semester will start Jan. 11, 2021 as planned. However, the first week of classes will be delivered remotely. Spring break has been moved to April 12 to April 16 and all classes after break will be delivered remotely, similarly to how Thanksgiving break is planned this fall.  

“Many of us have recognized that a traditional spring break would be problematic for health and safety reasons,” Roark said. “The concern now with air travel, navigating airports, public transit, and of course any sort of exposure students might experience while they are recreating or whatever it might be, poses a significant health risk not only to them but also to the broader community and the campus community.” 

Roark raised the question of spring break plans during a Boise State reintegration plan nearly a month ago. The reintegration committee gathered preferences and opinions for spring break from students and faculty through the faculty senate and ASBSU. 

Originally, Roark and Boise State’s reintegration committee proposed three options for spring break.

Option one would have ended the spring semester one week early, but there would be no spring break. Students and faculty quickly rejected this option because many people feel that the lack of spring break would result in student burnout, according to Roark. Another consideration was veteran students. Unless classes are held through May, students who receive benefits from veteran services would not receive any benefits for May.  

Option two would extend winter break by one week and have spring break occur at its scheduled time, but have a mandatory two-week quarantine and required testing for students, faculty, and staff returning to campus. 

[Photo of a person sitting on a suitcase at an airport]
Photo by Daria Shevtsova | Pexels

“The response from the assembly was essentially an outright rejection of the second option… they said ‘we shouldn’t even consider that because it poses too great of a public health risk for our students, their families, and for the rest of the communities they interact with,’” Roark said. 

Option three postpones spring break by two weeks and will deliver the last two weeks of classes remotely, which is ultimately the decision Boise State has made. 

Students should prepare to potentially switch to remote classes before spring break if Idaho sees an increase in COVID-19 cases next year, according to Roark. Boise State understands students and faculty may have time-sensitive plans during spring break and will not change the date, even if there is an increase in cases in the community. 

“Faculty and students should be prepared to transition from in-person or hybrid learning to remote, should we see a significant infection spike on campus or in the community,” said Roark.

According to Roark, Boise State is doing everything they can to prevent a campus shutdown while maintaining the health and safety of students and faculty. At this time, Roark does not know how spring commencement will be conducted. 

“I want to thank the students for their flexibility and understanding,” said Roark. “I want to acknowledge that a traditional spring break sounds wonderful right now, probably to everyone. But I’m sure that everyone probably recognizes that is just not in the cards right now and that there’s just so much risk associated with having a traditional spring break.”

Alee Mccormack, senior political science major, believes Boise State’s spring break decision was a smart move and beneficial to all students and faculty. 

“Every decision that we make from here on out as a university as a whole is affecting everyone on a very personal level, especially in regards to COVID and people’s mental wellbeing,” Mccormack said. 

Going into the fall semester, Mccormack felt unsure about how everything would unfold at the university, but having Boise State make the spring break decision before spring registration, puts Mccormack at ease. 

“The school is doing the best that they can with everything that we’re learning on a daily basis,” said Mccormack. “I was really glad to see their response to the white house saying that Idaho schools should shut down. I personally think that Boise State, especially compared to other schools, has been doing a really good job of trying to maintain the health of the student body as a whole.”
More information on dates for the spring semester can be found on Boise State’s spring 2021 Academic Calendar Page.

Graphic by Sarah Schmid | The Arbiter

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