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CT colleges and universities taking COVID-19 spring break protocols seriously

Despite the CDC warnings that now is not the time to travel, the nicer weather and the amended state travel bans to travel advisories, have sparked a vacation surge.

HARTFORD, Conn. — It’s Spring and that means it’s traditionally the time for spring break for college students. But with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warning about an avoidable variant-driven surge, are Connecticut’s local colleges and universities listening?

Some colleges are allowing spring break — with testing requirements — others are spreading the days out throughout the semester, while others have decided to cancel altogether.

We’ve all seen the images - crowded beaches in Miami playing host to spring breakers.

"If you have travel just don’t go down to Miami Beach. It looks like it’s pretty hopping for spring break," Gov. Ned Lamont said recently. "There’s also a real risk of a flare-up there. We don’t need that. And if you do go down and you don’t listen and come back, get tested."

But despite the CDC warnings that now is not the time to travel, the nicer weather and the amended state travel bans to travel advisories, have sparked a vacation surge.

Veronica Kastukevich, the owner of Custom Travel in Wallingford, said the "flood gates" opened about three weeks ago for people looking for vacations.

"We are inundated with calls," she said.

A recent survey found 60% of colleges and universities have canceled spring break. With an eye on Florida, Western Connecticut State University is one of them.

"I look at those images and I’m really glad that it’s not WestConn students coming back to campus because all I can imagine is most of those students are bringing back COVID with them," said Paul Steinmetz, the spokesperson of Western Connecticut State University.

The University of Hartford also canceled spring break but started the semester late — essentially front-loading those days.

"What we are seeing right now is a lot of COVID fatigue. I think people have just been fed up with the mask-wearing and social distancing," said Aaron Isaacs, the Dean of Students for the University of Hartford.

Hartford did however just announce they’ll be able to hold its May commencement in person. Six separate ceremonies spread out over two days at the XL Center.

"They went through four years of hard work and I think having that closure and celebration," Isaacs said. "Not only for them but their families and parents who have sacrificed so much to go through these four years it’s really important that we do that."

Over at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, a canceled spring break was replaced with what they called a staycation — a week of on-campus activities like roller skating, a casino night, and canoe racing.

"And it ended of Sunday night with a Senior toast. We were able to toast our graduating seniors. We had some fire pits outside in a socially distant way and it was a wonderful opportunity to give something back to our students who will be graduating who had to go through so much this past year," explained John Tully, the VP of Student Affairs at Connecticut Central State University.

UConn's spring break is still on from April 12 - 16, but, rather than returning to campus, students will go home where the last two weeks of classes will be taught online.

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