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NM universities extend spring break in response to virus

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

A student walks to the Student Union Building at the University of New Mexico on Friday afternoon. (Anthony Jackson/Albuquerque Journal)

The University of New Mexico is extending its spring break for two weeks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials announced Friday.

New Mexico State University and the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology have also announced that their spring breaks will be extended as the schools grapple with the coronavirus.

All three universities were scheduled to be off next week and for students to return March 23. NMSU and Tech have since pushed that date back to March 30.

UNM is trying to balance both student academic success and public health, UNM President Garnett Stokes said in a video announcing that the school’s break will be extended through April 5, the same as public K-12 schools in the state.

“We will use this three-week period to plan and prepare for some of the changes this pandemic will necessitate, including for the continued academic success of our students and the health of our university community,” she said.

UNM Provost James Holloway emailed a dispatch across campus on Thursday night that said closing the school could be significant to students – especially those in a precarious financial place.

“Some are at financial risk, and their ability to complete a college degree is delicate and easily derailed, too often forever,” he wrote. “For many, we are their only provider of room and board, of health care, and of employment. While a few universities around the country are closing, this course can cause harm that may even be irreparable.”

Holloway said that experts from across the university, including health and academic leadership, are creating a strategy to continue educating while also taking safety measures to slow the spread of the virus.

“Our strategy remains unchanged – to simultaneously do what we can as part of the national effort to flatten the curve of daily infections and reduce the burden on health care during this COVID-19 pandemic, while also recognizing that we must support our students to progress in their academic work,” Stokes said.

Western New Mexico University has extended spring break and will be having online-only classes starting March 30. New Mexico Highlands University and Eastern New Mexico University have also announced their spring breaks will last an extra week, according to the universities’ websites.

Officials at Central New Mexico Community College did not respond to calls for comment on Thursday and Friday. The community college’s website said throughout the day Friday that an announcement on classes would be made later, but it was not.

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