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Virginia Tech unveils Spring 2021 plan, spring break divided

Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 10:34 PM EDT
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Virginia Tech has unveiled its spring semester plan, right on the heels of fall break.

The plan is an extension of many things we saw when students got back to campus in the fall and practices we have seen since then.

“What we’re sharing today is really a continuation of what we’re doing right now,” said university spokesperson Mark Owczarski. “Really in the spring what we’re doing is continuing that work, we’re not coming up with a new plan, we’re simply extending the plan that we have and looking further out.”

Students will schedule a time to return to campus, and those living on campus will be required to get a COVID-19 test.

The biggest change this year is no traditional week off. Instead, five days throughout the semester in February, March and April will take its place.

“This year because of the pandemic it’s really important to discourage travel for everybody,” Owczarski said.

“It’s not ideal, but during these times, nothing is ideal,” said sophomore Hannah Pantaleo.

The idea of a divided-up break got mixed reactions from the students WDBJ7 spoke to Monday.

“I was a little upset when I heard the news because I feel like during the week I’m already ready to do work, I’ve been working all week and then just getting one day off? I feel like it might even mess up my work schedule,” said sophomore Joey Russo. “Especially in these circumstances, morale might be low for a few people and going home to see your family might be exactly what everybody might need.”

“Having it spread out is going to have people definitely not leave, because me and my friends were planning on going somewhere, but now that it’s spread out, we’re definitely not going to do that,” said sophomore Carly Zurschmeiee.

Zurschmeiee said even with the break spread out, she believes students who live off campus might still decide to take a week off because they have all online classes.

Radford University has cut its break altogether. Virginia Tech and students say some break is better than nothing.

“We didn’t want to just erase a break. We wanted to preserve it for the sake of our students' wellness,” Owczarski said. “Experience and research shows you’ve gotta give students some time to kind of unwind, relax and take a break.”

“It’s going to stink that you might still have to be doing those classes, but at least you won’t have to go into class or wake up early to go on to Zoom,” Pantaleo said.

“Having a break on a Tuesday isn’t as effective as maybe like a Friday and then creating a long weekend,” said sophomore Meredith Ashley. “When it’s in the middle of the week like that it’s really difficult to actually take a break.”

Once Thanksgiving break comes, most students will be leaving town until January as all classes and finals go online. For those leaving, they have the option to get a COVID-19 test before they go.

Just like in the fall, the students are required to quarantine for two weeks before coming back, and the first week of classes will be virtual to allow for a phased-in moving and testing process.

“We need to rely on our students to take the lead and be accountable for their own behavior because at the end of the day so much of why we’re doing what we’re doing is for the sake of public health,” Owczarski said.

You can read the whole spring semester plan here.

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