The University of California at Davis has revealed a spring break grant program that will reward students who stay on campus during spring break week with $75 gift cards. This time last year, spring break across the country was marked by sharp spikes in COVID-19 cases, with some institutions doing away with the mid-semester hiatus altogether.
According to a report from Newsweek, the voucher initiative is part of the university's and the city of Davis' collaborative "Healthy Davis Together" project. The grant initiative asks that students agree to remain in the Davis area over the week-long break, and requires interested students to submit an application that includes a COVID-19 diagnostic test during the week of spring break.
UC Davis' grant program was revealed in an announcement on the university's Facebook page, which read in part:
"Planning a staycation for spring break? Get $75 to add some excitement to your week and support a local Davis business by applying for the Healthy Davis Together Spring Break Grant. As per state guidance, all non-essential travel should be avoided, and staying local is a good way to do your part in slowing the spread of COVID-19."
The initiative was initially limited applications to 500 student applicants, but following increased interest in the program, administrators raised the number applicants to 2,000.
The university's grant program aligns with larger, statewide guidelines that currently limit non-essential travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program also hopes to help direct additional patronage to local Davis, Calif. business establishments.
"Because the grants are in the form of a gift card that must be redeemed at Davis stores during the week of spring break, March 22-26, we are confident that the majority of students who have applied will stay in town and use these grants creatively to enjoy their time off," said Melissa Lutz Blouin, director of news and media relations at the university's communications office in a statement to Newsweek.
In total, the grant program is expected to cost roughly $150,000 but tuition money and other student fees will not be used to finance the initiative.