By Matthew Muir and Matthew Soderberg | Copy Desk Chief and News Editor, Contributing Reporting by Grace Smith | Broadcaster Reporter
Baylor announced the cancellation of spring break and Diadeloso for the spring semester Wednesday. Winter break has been extended by a week, and classes will now start on Jan. 19, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The changes serve as a measure to prevent future COVID-19 outbreaks.
Provost Nancy Brickhouse announced the change and said Baylor’s priority is a “safe completion of the spring semester with campus-based instruction.”
“Like many major universities across the country — and Big 12 schools … Baylor will not take a traditional Spring Break this year,” Brickhouse said. “Instead, Winter Break has been extended at the beginning of the semester. Keeping students, faculty and staff safely on campus, preventing COVID-19 outbreaks like we saw across the country last Spring and progressing toward the successful completion of the Spring semester is our highest priority.”
The winter break extension is to provide a 14-day “quarantine” period after the end of typical family gatherings before students return to campus, and leaves time available should Baylor implement a COVID-19 testing program similar to the one seen in the fall.
Baylor joins TCU as the only schools at the FBS level in Texas to remove spring break, originally planned for March 6 through March 14, from their academic calendars for next semester. Dr. J. Wesley Null, the vice provost for undergraduate education and institutional effectiveness, said Baylor’s decisions in the past months seem to have worked as positive active cases continue to decrease.
“We are never going to do anything that puts our students, faculty and staff at risk,” Null said. “So far, the decisions that we’ve made with pre-arrival testing and surveillance testing, with mask policy, with social distancing expectations, are doing what we need them to do … The more we contribute as a community, doing all those right things, the better chances we have of getting [to the end of the semester.] So what I would ask students to do is just work with us on this.”
Diadeloso will also be “suspended” for the spring and replaced with a day of classes. The annual celebration has been a staple of the university since 1935. Null said he expects for Diadeloso to make an appearance in some form in the spring, but there are no concrete plans yet.
“I know that our Student Life folks, Kevin Jackson, the vice president for Student Life, is thinking along those lines, and no decisions have been made,” Null said. “I’m sure we’ll find some way to do that. I just don’t know yet.”
Spring classes will end April 28, with study days and exams taking place from April 29 through May 5. Null stressed that Baylor is doing everything they can to provide a normal year for both seniors and the rest of the student body.
“We’re doing the very best that we absolutely can, and we will as soon as we possibly can return to all the senior activities that we want our students to have,” Null said. “It’s not Baylor doing this. It’s the reality of the COVID situation.”