By Chelsie Derman
Think about it — with the “Spring Flex” plan in motion, winter break will be seven weeks long. While that might allow ample time to work a part-time job, relax after taking a winter class and simply enjoy the break to its fullest, should winter break really be that long?
I understand. With the lingering virus and the potential danger of people going home to their families for spring break, it makes sense that students who choose to live on campus for the spring 2021 semester should stay on campus. What would happen if students leave? Will they unintentionally get their family members ill? Will someone in their hometown spread the virus and in turn the student brings Covid-19 to the College?
While I believe the reasoning lies more on the latter, since students at the College will be required to get weekly Covid-19 testings and must self-quarantine in a separate building if they do contract the virus, the idea of a longer winter break almost feels arbitrary. Other than the obvious reason to delay the spring semester until the pandemic hopefully improves, I don’t see many advantages to making winter break longer and essentially cutting spring break all together.
For starters, spring break always has its pros. It provides a nice break from stressful college courses when students can decompress during the midst of a long semester. While you may have a professor or two who may assign homework during this time, ideally spring break is a stress-free time.
Even though you may absolutely love college and love being on campus with that wonderful atmosphere, there’s something about looking forward to spring break which is a natural, human response.
According to Alina Health, vacations have more health benefits than one might think. Although we obviously cannot go on vacations during a global pandemic, vacationing at one’s home is still a vacation nonetheless, and a break from all the stress your classes might create.
The article talks about the positives of vacations such as “improved mental health,” and “decreased burnout,” which are two top reasons why the College should reconsider adding a spring break and cutting down the extended winter break.
Alina Health described a discovery around mental health. “Neuroscientists have found that brain structure is altered by chronic exposure to the stress hormone cortisol, which can be a major contributing factor to anxiety and depression,” said Alina Health. “Feelings of calm arise from time away from work and relieve stress.”
It’s unhealthy to live our lives without a break. That would be putting our minds on overdrive.
Additionally, Alina Health states that vacations allow for a “decreased burnout,” which allows people to be more creative and productive — two important qualities for college students.
For some people, especially myself, schoolwork is constantly on my mind and I feel like I can’t take a break until I get a certain amount of homework done. Having breaks delivered to us by the school itself is like a little treat, a reminder that, OK, yes, I can take a break for a semi-long period of time. I can take this easy. I can hold off on doing a little homework for my own self-care because I don’t have immediate deadlines to adhere to.
Furthermore, another article talks on the advantages of spring breaks. According to Psychology Today, researchers discovered that just looking forward to a break is what “positively influences our mood” and gives us “happiness.”
We cannot forget about our student’s mental health when choosing to eliminate spring break altogether. Yes, in the recent email President Foster said that we will have two random days off in the spring off in dedication for ‘spring break,’ but is that really fair from the traditional week-long break?
Personally, I would prefer to have winter break shorter and to have spring break last five days like usual. While I can’t take credit for the idea, I noticed a student from the College left a comment on the College’s recent Instagram post about the new “Spring Flex Plan” and made the suggestion to have five random days off that act as a “break” during the spring semester. That way, we could prevent students from leaving the campus.
Could we do this? And if we have random days off, then we can shorten the extended winter break that feels unnecessary. However, if the reason exists due to the potential that Covid-19 will improve, it’s highly unlikely a pandemic will miraculously improve after a single week.
While the beginning of winter break feels nice and relaxing, by the end the days almost feel uneventful and tiring, with me having the constant thoughts: when is this going to end?
We are much better off having a shorter winter break, if winter courses allow for it, and adding in a spring break that is longer than two days.
Although I am all in for keeping students at the College safe from the virus, I also understand the importance of mental health and having balanced breaks. Unless there’s a legitimate reason to make winter break longer and cut spring break all together for safety reasons, then I believe that we should bring spring break back. If not, the College must devise a plan for students to maintain a healthy mental state during the nearly break-less spring semester.