The Spring Schedule Needs to be Revised
Though Spring Break might be a thing of the past, breaks themselves don’t have to be.
Spring Break is a much anticipated break for college students. Yet this year, with COVID-19 still affecting the schedule, Furman has joined many universities in canceling Spring Break. The university justified their choice by stating that Spring Break “had been removed since extended travel opportunities pose health and safety risks for our campus community.”
I agree that a week off will prompt some students to take “extended travel opportunities” that could likely result in bringing the virus back to campus. This year simply is not the year for a week-long Spring Break. However, just because the typical break is out of the question does not mean that all reprieves are negative—something the administration clearly failed to recognize when drafting the new Spring 2021 calendar. The revised schedule contains only one day off in replacement of the traditional week-long break. This choice will ultimately hurt students more than help them stay safe, and therefore should be revisited by the administration.
The fall semester has been a testament to the importance of breaks. A combined lack of days off, restriction of stress relieving extracurriculars, and pressures of the omni-present global pandemic has greatly affected students, both mentally and physically. There is an air of exhaustion, anxiety and annoyance on campus. In short, students are overworked with no relief, and the absence of a three-day weekend holiday and fall break has made academic burn-out all the more potent.
On the popular instagram account “@fumissedconnections,” many students have expressed their distress about this semester, sharing feelings of anxiety and fatigue. Students knew the fall semester was going to be tumultuous given the challenges presented by the pandemic, but the mental stress incurred as a result of the situation has been overwhelming.
While the administration cannot eradicate the pandemic, they can provide students with the necessary reprieves. The student body has been mature and responsible in its handling of this unprecedented semester, but this can only continue so long. With no significant break next semester, there is a real possibility student discipline could wane and campus outbreaks could follow. If Furman wants to keep their case rates low, they need to consider providing more breaks.
If the administration is solely eliminating an extended break in the spring for fear that students might travel, a possible solution is to build in “secret” breaks. Let the staff know about an upcoming day off so they can plan accordingly, but don’t tell students until the week of. 48-72 hours is not a sufficient amount of time to make extensive plans for travels, yet the unexpected off-day will still allow students to sleep in, catch up on work or safely enjoy downtown Greenville.
If additional days off are an absolute no for next semester, there needs to be better support for students. While I fully understand professors have a curriculum to follow, they need to offer students a little grace and compassion. Cancelling one class goes a long way for students’ well being and does not interfere with larger academic progress. Professors cannot expect students to engage and participate while continuing to assign work at the current pace. To operate at our best, students need some time off, and next semester is the perfect opportunity to implement such a change.