COVID-19 and Texas State Thanksgiving Break

by Ricardo Delgado

SAN MARCOS — Thanksgiving Break, lasting from Nov. 25 to 29, has some Texas State faculty concerned over a possible spike in COVID-19 cases after students return to San Marcos.

Feelings of unease over the eventually returning students were voiced in the Oct. 7 Faculty Senate meeting, after a potential plan to cancel spring break in the spring 2021 semester was pitched to the Faculty Senate by Provost Gene Bourgeois. Reasons given for the break include wanting to reduce the amount of COVID-19 cases spread through travel, a line of thinking quickly applied by some Senate members to the still-existing Thanksgiving Break.

Bourgeois cited the inflexibility of the fall 2021 schedule as the primary reason for not shifting classes or cancelling the break.

“The real reason for not doing anything with Thanksgiving is because that was part of the scenario planning that we had already made into our scheduled classes for the fall,” Bourgeois said. “We really can’t change the start and finish times of the semester that readily. It leads into when we start the summer terms. It leads into them when we trigger the beginning of the Fall 2021 semester.”

Bourgeois also predicted a reduction in large family gatherings over the break, which would aid in slowing infectivity rates. Despite this, Bourgeois also said he knew students traveled home on the weekends regardless.

Senate member Jennifer Jensen suggested a possible switch to remote instruction after the break, so as to reduce the spread of COVID-19 without sacrificing the break.

“I think it’s optimistic to think a lot of students won’t travel and go to large gatherings with their family,” Jensen said. “But enough are going to. It seems like unnecessary risk.”

Bourgeois dismissed the idea of switching to an all-online format Thanksgiving, claiming many classes are almost completely online anyway, as well as citing the need to stick to the modality of classes once they are coded into a schedule.

“People have already paid for things,” Bourgeois said. “There are many faculty and [classes of students] who have reached agreements already. I’m not prying into those at all. ”

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