Texas A&M cutting spring break short, opting for 3-day weekend

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KTRK) -- Goodbye, sunshine. Hello, study sessions.

Colleges around the U.S. are scaling back spring break or canceling it entirely to discourage partying that could spread COVID-19 and raise infection rates back on campus.

Among them is Texas A&M University, which has opted for a three-day weekend instead of a whole week off.

In a bulletin published on Oct. 8, 2020 about changes to the spring semester calendar, Texas A&M said that spring break would be reduced from one full week to one day, Friday, March 19, 2021 to "minimize extensive travel and allow the semester to conclude earlier for additional commencements."

March 19 will remain a staff holiday.

The university has posted the updated academic calendar.

But Texas A&M is not alone in the changes.

The University of Alabama and the University of Wisconsin-Madison also did away with spring break, but are giving students a day off later in the semester.

Even some students who have the time to get away aren't in the mood. Michigan Tech's weeklong break began Friday, but 21-year-old Justin Martin decided to visit family in Michigan instead of making that epic senior-year trip to Florida he once envisioned.

"I don't want to travel all that way, first of all, especially with everything being shut down. It just doesn't seem worth it, especially with COVID too," he said.

To be sure, many college students looking to blow off steam or escape the cold and snowy North are still going to hit big party spots such as Florida, Mexico, California and Las Vegas to soak up the sun and go bar-hopping at night. Others will go skiing in the mountains or hit other tourist spots.

But many others say they will be reluctantly skipping trips this year.

"Definitely, no planned trips. Definitely wearing masks this year," said Brady Stone, a 21-year-old journalism major at Texas A&M. "We are kind of hunkering down and staying safe." He added: "I think most of us, if we are going anywhere, it is back to their hometowns."

One university is even willing to pay students to avoid traveling.

The University of California Davis is offering a $75 Spring Break Grant if students agree to stay in town and not travel during their spring break period of March 22-25.

Here's how other Houston-area colleges and universities are handling Spring Break 2021:
  • University of Houston: Spring break March 15 - 20
  • Rice University: Spring "Sprinkle" Days Feb. 17, March 1, March 16, March 26 and April 8 (no scheduled classes, no assignments can't be due)
  • University of Houston-Downtown: Spring break March 15 - 20
  • Texas Southern University: Spring break April 1 - 4
  • Houston Baptist University: Spring break March 15 - 19
  • University of St. Thomas: Spring break March 8 - 12
  • University of Houston-Clear Lake: Spring break March 15 - 21
  • Alvin Community College: Spring break March 14 - 20
  • College of the Mainland: Spring break March 15 - 21
  • San Jacinto College: Spring break March 15 - 21
  • Prairie View A&M University: No spring break

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Crowds are expected to flock to Galveston Island this Spring Break, just weeks after Governor Greg Abbott lifted mask-restrictions for the entire state of Texas.

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Large crowds were on the beach, doing the exact opposite of what health officials have said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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