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Miami replaces spring break with scattered “reading days”

<p>University administrators are still unsure when Miami professors will receive their COVID-19 vaccines. </p>

University administrators are still unsure when Miami professors will receive their COVID-19 vaccines.

Miami will follow the lead of universities like Ohio State in the decision to eliminate the traditional, week-long spring break and replace it with five “reading days” throughout the 2021 spring semester. 

Just as the fall calendar was rearranged around Thanksgiving to reduce potential travel and prevent the spread of coronavirus, the same is being done to the spring semester schedule. 

In an email to the Miami community, Provost Jason Osborne said this new plan allows the university to continue with the same winter and summer terms, but it is still subject to change. 

“It is to try to keep this Oxford bubble as tight as we can for as long as we can to reduce risk,” said Jayne Brownell, vice president for student affairs. 

But spring semester is a long semester with very few breaks, even in a traditional academic year. To mitigate this, five “reading days” will be substituted in: each in different weeks, all on different days of the week.

Students are getting the same amount of time off, just dispersed. By spreading the days out like this, Miami is still meeting the state’s instructional hours requirements while attempting to keep students safe.

“I just wish [the reading days] weren’t sporadically placed and instead [were] random Fridays so we could get a three-day weekend,” Sydney Cain, a sophomore psychology and theatre double major, said. 

According to Brownell, this is exactly what is trying to be avoided, as long weekends might leave students more likely to leave campus or have social events. But some students think that it won’t make a difference. 

“The reading days [are] interesting, but I feel like [they’re] not effective because people are just going to have parties,” senior kinesiology major Alexia Owens said. 

While the solution is not flawless, there are many other universities, like Ohio State and Purdue, making the same change. 

“There is nothing about COVID that has us making decisions that we love,” Brownell said. “We are making the best decisions available.”

Junior computer science major Joshua McCoy is disappointed by the decision and lack of communication from Miami, and even feels it’s a little preemptive. 

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“I’m surprised it’s so early because I don't think any of us really know what this is going to turn into come March of 2021,” McCoy said. “I’m not sure [the decision] was necessarily needed at this point.”

But Brownell said they wanted to dodge the complications that come from waiting too long. 

“We wanted people to know what to expect and make those decisions now and have them stick,” Brownell said.

Aidan Schwind, a sophomore information systems and analytics major, has yet to experience a normal spring break since starting college. While a little let down, he’s grateful for the new pause points in the semester.

“I’m glad they didn’t take away a break altogether,” Schwind said. “I think it is a good alternative [and] a good opportunity for students to stay caught up and take advantage of relaxing.”

Although she understands this year is different, Brownell hopes this gives students an opportunity to take a breather. 

“I know it’s not the same as having a full week off,” Brownell said, “but it does acknowledge and try to build in that opportunity to have a mental health day or a catch-up day or whatever a student needs.”