Spring break returns

Students share their plans and concerns ahead of the first unmodified spring break since pre-pandemic days.

Students with and without masks wait at RTCC after USC lifts the mask requirement in most indoor campus spaces.

This year, students will have their first unmodified spring break since 2019.Last year, spring break was replaced with wellness days and in 2020, the university piloted online learning prior to spring break and encouraged students to abstain from travel.

Amid decreasing COVID-19 case numbers, Americans are expected to hit the road at pre-pandemic rates. A recent survey found that 57% percent of Americans plan to travel over 50 miles away from home this spring break, a slight increase from 54% in 2019 and a sizable jump from 32% in 2020.

Jaime Urias, a junior majoring in music industry, plans to fly to Guadalajara, Mexico to see family. He said that COVID-19 precautions aren’t as prevalent in the area.

“Where I’m from, they kind of don’t take it seriously,” Urias said. “It’s not as restrictive there.”

Students traveling longer distances over the break must assess the role COVID-19 precautions may play in their vacation.

Putty Basseer, a sophomore majoring in business administration, doesn’t anticipate COVID-19 will affect his plans to visit Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

“I’m young and healthy; it’s not really going to affect me,” Basseer said. “I’ve been making the most of it and going about my normal life.”

As of March 1, USC is no longer requiring weekly COVID-19 testing for fully vaccinated and boosted individuals.

Chief Health Officer Sarah Van Orman confirmed in a briefing that testing will not be mandatory after spring break, but that tests will be readily available. If cases surpass a 1.5% to 2% positivity rate, the university may reccomend additional testing after spring break.

Karena Rowley, a sophomore majoring in business administration, said she would support USC reinstating required testing after spring break.

“Especially with mask mandates dropping, after we come back, we’ll all kind of just be exposed to everyone else,” Rowley said. “I think it would be good if they did [require testing].”

Luke Ottomeyer, a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, plans to drive to Phoenix, Arizona, for spring break. Like Rowley, Ottomeyer also supports implementing testing after the break.

“I’m fine doing [testing],” Ottomeyer said. “It takes like five minutes, so if you can do something about [COVID], why not? I would probably keep [testing], especially if you’re going to get rid of the masks. It doesn’t hurt to just keep an eye on it.”

USC will provide free COVID-19 antigen test kits for students to use after they return from their spring break travels. Students can pick up the kits at the Lyon Center Kiosk or at the UPC/HSC Bookstores.

According to Van Orman, there will be no process to upload these results prior to returning to campus, but students who test positive should inform the university. Her suggestions for a safe spring break include testing before and after traveling, researching COVID-19 transmission levels at your spring break travel location, wearing masks in crowded indoor places and isolating if you devleop any symptoms.