California college offering students cash to skip spring break

Mar 9, 2021

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With pandemic fatigue setting in and spring break fast approaching, one university is taking a novel approach to encourage students to stay safe and not travel.

UC Davis, the third-largest school in the California university system, is partnering with the city of Davis to offer students $75 if they choose to stay in Davis for spring break, scheduled for March 22–26. This comes as public health officials worry about a possible spike in COVID-19 cases if people get careless and don’t practice social distancing. Images of huge crowds of college students partying at traditional spring break hot spots like Fort Lauderdale, Florida, have only heightened concerns of superspreader events.

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Students have until March 10 to apply for the money, which is known as the Spring Break Grant. Only the first 750 qualified applicants will get the money, which could be used at certain businesses in the Northern California city during Spring break week. The incentive payment comes as Davis’ Yolo County enters “red tier” status in California’s pandemic reopening plan. This stage means certain businesses have been allowed to reopen, and restaurants have been able to resume indoor dining.

Related: California lifting stay-at-home orders

The CDC’s just-announced guidelines for what activities people who are fully vaccinated can do offered some optimism that we could soon be “returning to normal.” Those who have gotten the vaccine can gather indoors with other vaccinated people without masks. However, the CDC is still cautioning against travel, even if you have been fully vaccinated. That decision led one health expert to say it defied common sense.

Related: CDC unveils new rules for those with vaccines

Even though Florida has been “open for business” for some time – Orlando theme parks such as Walt Disney World and Universal Studios have been open for months, unlike their California counterparts — the pandemic has still been devastating for its tourism industry.

The Sunshine State generated $91 billion from visitors as recently as 2018, but officials estimate it lost billions last year due to the pandemic. This year, Miami tourism officials spent $5 million on its largest national advertising campaign in two decades, hoping to get visitors to return to its beaches, bars and restaurants.

Related: State-by-state guide to coronavirus reopening

Still, some universities continue to look for ways to keep their students from putting themselves at risk. While paying students to skip spring break is far from the norm, some universities have taken other measures to protect students from possibly putting themselves in harm’s way. Schools like Texas A&M and the University of Alabama either shortened spring break or got rid of it altogether.

Featured image by Joseph DeSantis/Getty Images

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