The University of Wisconsin-Madison has eliminated spring break next semester in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
During a faculty senate meeting Monday afternoon, members voted overwhelmingly to cancel spring break while starting spring semester classes a week later. They will now start Jan. 25.
The changes are aimed at preventing students from traveling long distances during spring break and infecting others. The faculty senate said the scenario “would result in an unmanageable outbreak of COVID-19 when they return to campus.”
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UW-Madison has already reported 2,138 positive coronavirus tests among students according to the campus COVID-19 dashboard.
Wednesday, the university moved all undergraduate classes online for two weeks and quarantined two residence halls after several outbreaks. UW-Madison also said several off-campus fraternities and sororities have been quarantined due to outbreaks.
Still, UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, on Monday, defended the decision to bring some 35,000 students back to campus for in-person classes this fall during the pandemic.
“I do believe that the decision to open campus this fall was the right one for several reasons,” said Blank. “In-person instruction is the better way for most students to learn. And we wanted to use it where we could safely. Our safety protocols for classrooms have worked. To date, we have no evidence of any transmission inside classroom settings.”
Blank also said hundreds of students have been referred to the campus Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards for violating housing policies and campus rules aimed at preventing outbreaks.
A UW-Madison spokesperson said 300 students have been referred and eight students have been suspended due to violations.
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