VCU releases spring semester plans and cancels spring break

Updated: Oct. 15, 2020 at 6:54 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia Commonwealth University announced the university will reopen in phases in January for the spring semester and eliminated spring break.

University President Michael Rao, Ph.D., said the elimination of the one-week break for students was done to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infection.

“Based on the remarkable efforts of our students, faculty and staff this fall semester, as well as ongoing assessment by VCU’s Public Health Response Team and current pandemic guidance from the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we will proceed with a spring semester very similar to what was offered this fall,” Rao said.

However, there will be two reading days, with one near the end of February and the other near the end of March.

While students may be bummed out about the change in spring break plans, most understand the reason.

“It’s kind of dangerous to have a bunch of students go on some sort of beach trip and then come back to the campus when we’re really trying to keep our numbers down,” said freshman Danielle Mapili.

COVID-19 – that is what it appears to be all about these days. As of Oct. 15, VCU had 23 active student cases and three employee cases.

To mitigate those numbers for the upcoming semester, spring break was canned.

“I think that’s very appropriate because we want to take care of our fellow citizens and we want to take care of one another,” said graduate student Samuel Kwong.

“At first I was like, ‘oh no, no spring break’ but at the same time I’d much rather be safe and at home then have to go home mid-semester for a spring break,” added freshman Isabelle Hammond.

Meanwhile, students said they are getting something else in return for the lack of a spring break.

“I mean our winter break is two months long,” Mapili said.

“If you want to go to the beach you can go in December,” Hammond added. Following that nearly two-month winter break, the university will reopen in a phased approach beginning with the health sciences schools and college research faculty, staff and trainees.

Classes are scheduled to start on Jan. 25 with the Monroe Park campus concluding on May 5 and the MCV campus on May 7, followed by exams.

Class instruction will be offered in a variety of ways including in-person, online and a mixture of both to accommodate student and staff needs.

“Our highest priority in executing our mission is the safety of our students, faculty, staff and surrounding community,” Rao said. “Flexibility remains critical in addressing evolving situations presented by COVID-19, including changes in the prevalence of infection in our community, as well as changes in requirements, guidelines and best practices.”

However, students acknowledge things have not been as smooth as pre-COVID.

“It’s definitely a struggle,” Hammond said. “It’s a lot harder.”

“Especially with online classes and retaining that information because you are at a desk and instead of being in the room,” Mapili said. “It can be difficult.”

Meanwhile, a Virginia State University spokeswoman said they are expected to release reopening plans in the coming days. VSU was one of only three Virginia colleges to keep its campus closed because of the pandemic.

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