HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. — Northern Kentucky University students won't see a traditional spring break in 2021 as the university attempts to limit student holiday travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The university announced it is replacing spring break with a series of shorter holidays to "reduce the risks associated with traditional spring break travel," according to a message to campus from President Ashish Vaidya.
Those new holidays include Feb. 15, March 12 and April 2. The spring semester will start and end as scheduled, on Jan. 11 and April 30.
"Our plan for spring will be very similar to 'NKU Moving Forward' presented to you in the fall. Course formats will include in-person, online and hybrid. Courses that require an in-person element, like a studio or lab, will be given priority, as well as classes for first year students and graduating seniors," Vaidya wrote.
NKU's Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Jan. 18 will go virtual in 2021 with details to be shared soon.
Additionally, NKU officials have decided to cancel the in-person commencement ceremony in December for winter and summer graduates, opting to host a virtual ceremony instead.
"I know the reaction from many of you will be great disappointment and frustration- for both yourself and our most recent alumni," Vaidya wrote. "We asked our May graduates to join the December Commencement, so we could celebrate all of our 2020 graduates together. I understand and truly share your regret for what should be, but I also must keep the health and wellbeing of the campus community top of mind. Gathering a crowd together indoors would not be responsible given the COVID-19 risk. We are working to make this virtual event special and have plans to include personal elements in the ceremony."
The virtual ceremony will be streamed online at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 12.
NKU will also extend winter break for its employees from Monday, Dec. 21 to Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. Faculty and staff will also get an extra day off before Thanksgiving.
"We hope you take Wednesday, November 25 to spend some time with family, friends and loved ones if you are safely able to do so," Vaidya wrote.
So far, NKU has seen 21 cumulative cases of COVID-19 in students since resuming in-person classes in August.
Vaidya also encouraged students to seek out NKU resources as they take care of their physical and mental well-being.
"We know many are feeling the fatigue from the crisis of the past several months. Please know you are not alone in how you are feeling, and there are resources available to help support you, like NKU’s Health, Counseling and Student Wellness Even in these uncertain and turbulent times, I believe we have reasons to remain optimistic. NKU is in a unique situation to evolve as our nation adapts to the pandemic and comes to terms with economic and social justice issues. Since its inception, NKU has not been afraid to change, and this positions us to emerge from this period as a more student-ready, regionally engaged university," Vaidya wrote.