California university paying students $75 to avoid travel during spring break

Mrak Hall, administrative center of UC Davis, Davis, California. Taken February 11, 2015.

The University of California, Davis is offering students $75 to be used for "staycations" to encourage them to avoid nonessential travel during spring break.

Students who choose to stay home during the March 22-26 break will get the money in gift cards. Student response has been "awesome," the university said in statement.

"The idea behind this was to provide a positive incentive for students to follow public health guidance," Sheri Atkinson, associate vice chancellor for student affairs, told the Los Angeles Times.

About 50% of the student body is living either on campus or in the Davis area, she said.

To receive a gift card, students must apply by giving a basic description of their spring break plans. They must pledge to stay in town for their weeklong break and complete a COVID-19 test.

The university initially planned to give 750 such grants, but because of student interest, it upped the cap to 2,000. The anticipated $150,000 program will be paid through philanthropy and other university funds — not student fees or tuition, Atkinson said.

RELATED: Spring Break: Officials caution against long-distance travel

Colleges around the country are scaling back spring break or canceling it entirely to discourage partying that could spread the virus and raise infection rates back on campus.

Texas A&M University opted for a three-day weekend instead of a whole week off. The University of Alabama and the University of Wisconsin-Madison also did away with spring break but are giving students a day off later in the semester. University of Mississippi also canceled spring break but will end the semester a week early.

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