Long before vacationers could even think about stocking up on tank tops and White Claws, Spring Break 2021 has been canceled in Florida.
Over the past few weeks, major universities across the state have canceled the March holiday owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, including Florida International University, the University of Miami, the University of Florida, and Florida State University.
Some institutions, like UF, elected to extend winter recess by a week and eliminate the spring break in order to allow more time for the pandemic to potentially subside over the winter, according to UF's student newspaper.
UM students, too, will commence the spring semester a week later in exchange for forgoing a March holiday, and the university announced two "Wellness Wednesdays" during the semester, "to give students a break from instruction."
FSU noted in its official announcement that adjustments to the spring calendar, including the cancellation of spring break, were made in an effort to mitigate potential spread of the virus by students traveling for vacation and then returning to Tallahassee.
Leadership at FIU did not give a reason for canceling but said the spring semester would end a week early, according to the school's student publication. (See update below.)
Miami is known to be the Spring Break spot for young people around the U.S., but that reputation has landed the city in some hot water during the pandemic.
Back in March, when COVID-19 was building steam but governments hadn't yet locked down, Spring Breakers descended on Miami en masse to fill the beaches, despite the risk of spreading the virus.
A month later, several individuals who traveled to Miami for vacation reported getting sick, and some died after attending a festival, the New York Times reported. Later, in July, Miami was labeled "a new epicenter" of the pandemic.
Though the state's universities aim to safeguard the health of their community, the recent cancellation announcements are rubbing some students the wrong way.
In public responses to FIU's student newspaper's Instagram page, students have complained that fewer breaks in the spring will take a toll on their mental health.
"I use that week as a mental health week, and I can imagine I'm not the only one that does so," reads a response to one Instagram story.
Florida universities still deciding on their spring plans include the University of South Florida and the University of Central Florida. Spokespersons from both institutions tell New Times that plans for spring are under discussion but no final decisions have been made.
Update published at noon October 2: "The recommendation to cancel spring break 2021 is one of the measures we are taking to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our university community. Spring break is a time when students have traditionally traveled and gathered in large numbers. Given the fact that we are still in a pandemic, we made this decision in an abundance of caution," an FIU spokesperson tells New Times via email.