The University of South Carolina has canceled fall break and will end in-person classes early

“Our best current modeling predicts a spike in cases of Covid-19 at the beginning of December, which also will likely coincide with traditional flu season,” university President Bob Caslen said in a message to faculty, staff and students.

That’s why Caslen says the school will move all classes online at Thanksgiving break. But that’s not the only step the university is taking.

Fall break is canceled.

“The public health risks associated with thousands of students and faculty returning to campus after Fall Break travels could be significant for the campus and Columbia communities and could jeopardize the continuation of the semester,” Caslen said in his message.

South Carolina Gamecocks players acknowledge fans after the Palmetto Bowl between Clemson and South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia in 2015.

The letter does not mention the university’s plans for its athletic programs. Major college football brings tens of thousands of fans to the campus every fall.

“We are discussing different scenarios and different models as we move forward,” said Steve Fink, assistant athletics director for communications.

South Carolina is not the only school considering significant changes to their normal fall break schedules. The University of California, Berkeley is currently investigating three options for the fall: conducting all classes remotely, resuming in-person classes but with restrictions — and conducting classes as normal but allowing faculty and students to attend remotely if they prefer.

Why officials predict a winter spike in Covid cases

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director for National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he’s almost certain coronavirus will come back later this year. The fact that the virus is so transmissible makes it even more dangerous, he said.

“When people are indoors and congregated in the cold dry weather, (viruses like coronavirus) tend to better than when you’re in a warmer climate,” Fauci said on April 28 during a webinar.

Along with his grim prediction, Fauci had another message: making changes now can save lives later.

“In my mind, it’s inevitable that we will have a return of the virus or maybe it never even went away,” he said. “When it does, how we handle it will determine our fate if by that time we have put into place all of the countermeasures that you need to address this, we should do reasonably well.”

The consequences of not doing so, Fauci said, could mean the US could “be in for a bad fall and a bad winter.”

Seasonal influenza viruses are present the entire year, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. But many Americans start getting sick with them in October, with peak activity between December and February.

An estimated 34,200 Americans died from influenza during the 2018-2019 flu season, according to the CDC. Over 89,000 people in the US have died from the coronavirus.

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