Is COVID-19 Affecting Spring Break Travel for US Students?

    10 March 2020

    Spring break is a popular tradition among students in the United States.

    As the name suggests, spring break is a time in the spring when schools suspend classes and let students take a break from their studies. Many students choose to travel to popular tourist destinations for a vacation, which often lasts a week.

    For some young people, spring break is more than tradition. It has become a rite of passage –- something they feel they must experience before becoming adults.

    Spring Breakers are covered in foam at The City nightclub in the city of Cancun, Mexico, early Monday, March 16, 2015. Cancun continues to be one of the top foreign destinations for U.S. college students to spend Spring Break. (AP Photo)
    Spring Breakers are covered in foam at The City nightclub in the city of Cancun, Mexico, early Monday, March 16, 2015. Cancun continues to be one of the top foreign destinations for U.S. college students to spend Spring Break. (AP Photo)

    For college students, spring break may involve drinking large amounts of alcohol. So, not surprisingly, a common word of advice for spring breakers is not to drink too much.

    This spring break, there is a new worry: the new coronavirus first identified in China. With concerns about the coronavirus, some students may be wondering if they should cancel their spring break travel plans.

    Florida, in the southeastern United States, is one of the most popular destinations for spring break travelers. With its beaches, theme parks and solid infrastructure, large numbers of college and university students travel there each spring.

    The Associated Press (AP) reports that the city of Orlando, in central Florida, is the "most visited tourist destination" in the U.S.

    Not only students on spring break, but people from all over the world visit the Orlando area's theme parks. These parks include Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando. The AP story notes that in 2018, 75 million people visited the Orlando area.

    Tampa Bay is another part of Florida where students often go for spring break. The Tampa Bay Times reported the area's first case of COVID-19. Some travel experts told the newspaper that the virus is not affecting people's travel plans. They base this on hotel cancellation numbers. However, others experts say it is too early to tell.

    American Vice President Mike Pence is the government official responsible for organizing the country's effort against the coronavirus outbreak. Pence said in a public statement that travel in the United States was safe for healthy people.

    But he has warned that other people may want to carefully consider any travel plans. He said those most at risk are older adults with "serious or chronic underlying health conditions."

    Many college students choose to travel overseas for spring break. Popular destinations include coastal areas in Mexico, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.

    This year, because of concerns over the virus, some colleges and universities are warning against international travel to affected areas.

    The University of Southern California and the University of Oklahoma are advising students against international travel during spring break.

    The Miami Herald notes that these universities are requiring students who travel to affected areas to self-quarantine upon returning to the U.S. for 14 days.

    The University of Southern California has this warning on its website:

    Advisory: Do Not Travel Internationally over Spring Break: All students, faculty and employees are strongly advised against all international travel – including popular spring break destinations such as Cabo San Lucas and Cancun in Mexico.

    Before making or canceling travel plans, experts are urging Americans to check with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for the latest on travel restrictions.

    I'm Anne Ball.

    And I'm Caty Weaver.

    Anna Matteo wrote this story based on several news articles. George Grow was the editor.


    Words in This Story

    tourist n. one that makes a tour for pleasure or culture

    destination n. a place to which a person is going or something is being sent

    beach n. a shore of a body of water covered by sand, gravel, or larger rock fragments

    theme park n. an amusement park in which the structures and settings are based on a central theme

    infrastructure n. the basic equipment and structures (such as roads and bridges) that are needed for a country, region, or organization to function properly

    outbreak n. a sudden rise in the incidence of a disease

    chronic adj. continuing or occurring again and again for a long time

    underlying adj. used to identify the idea, cause, problem, etc., that forms the basis of something

    quarantine n. the period of time during which a person or animal that has a disease or that might have a disease is kept away from others to prevent the disease from spreading

    faculty n. the group of teachers in a school or college