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Washington universities discourage spring break travel as pandemic continues

Leaders at UW and WSU strongly discourage "nonessential travel" this season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

SEATTLE — The University of Washington sent a letter to students in early March that “nonessential travel is still strongly discouraged” with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This applies to Spring Break, which is scheduled at UW this week. 

"I got a few emails about 'don't hold any big parties,' anything like that, so we just try to be home and stay safe," said UW graduate student George Huang.

A few blocks away from UW's Seattle campus, University Presbyterian Church welcomed spring with a tulip drive, which also serves as a fundraiser for families with children fighting a serious illness. This yearly tradition continued in a not-so-traditional year. But other annual events are impacted. 

"Usually, the high school group would be down in Mexico building houses this week -- and college students usually go somewhere on a mission trip -- none of that is happening this year," said Liz Coon, mom of two college-aged students. 

Across the state, Washington State University is forgoing its traditional Spring Break altogether. Instead, WSU is spreading out vacation days over three long weekends this semester.

“Nonessential travel continues to represent a significant threat to the health of our students, staff, faculty and the communities that support our physical campuses,” Provost and Executive Vice President Elizabeth Chilton said in a statement posted to the WSU’s website. “We must make adjustments to the calendar to reduce this risk while maintaining opportunities for students to rest and refocus during the semester." 

On Friday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee rescinded the existing state travel advisory put in place in November 2020. Instead, Inslee deferred to federal guidelines, which include calling on travelers to get the vaccine, if eligible, get tested up to three days before traveling and maintain social distancing while on the road.

RELATED: Washington travel advisory now follows CDC guidance on testing, quarantining

Meanwhile in Florida, Miami Beach city officials announced an extended state of emergency and mandatory nightly curfew and highway shutdowns in light of "out of control" crowds gathering during spring break.  

Officials are imposing an emergency 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew effective immediately, saying large, out-of-control spring break crowds crammed the beaches, trashed some restaurant properties and brawled in the streets.   

RELATED: Miami Beach declares emergency curfew over 'out of control' spring break crowds

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