By: Katie Farkas and Lizz Panchyk
As the spring semester begins, students’ thoughts and plans about spring break are also beginning. Though it’s normally a time when students use their week-long vacation to relax and recharge or to travel with friends and classmates, spring break in 2021 will be looking a little different.
As stated on the university website under “Important Information: Preparing for Winter and Spring 2021,” to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and keep students, faculty and their families safe, Adelphi has decided to “eliminate any extended breaks, including Spring Break in March, to discourage travel followed by a return to campus.” Instead, there are five vacation days spread throughout the remainder of the semester. The five non-consecutive days off are: Wednesday, March 10, Thursday, April 1, Friday, April 16, Monday, May 3 and Tuesday, May 11.
In response to this change, students are experiencing mixed feelings. One first-year art student, Amanda Bremer, stated, “I don’t think the five sporadic days of downtime that replace the break are going be that helpful. Five days out of the blue feels like a tease of free time to me. I enjoy breaks because they give me relief from the normal responsibilities from class. It’s a nice breather for me to spend time doing things I like at my own pace, so without it, I may feel a bit suffocated in work.”
Kenneth Dionisio, a first-year undergrad computer science major, said, “Though this newly constructed idea of Spring Break is a productive way to halt the spread of Covid-19, it does not serve as a conducive way for students to receive their deserved time off from their academics. The five nonconsecutive days appear to be scattered across the calendar arbitrarily. March 20th and March 21st are considered a part of our Spring break, considering they are weekends? It would have been better if the days were planned in a more organized manner, for example, a day off every Wednesday.”
First-year student Luid Merino added, “When I first found out, I was completely devastated because who doesn't love Spring Break? I understand [that] the precautions the school is taking [are] on our behalf. However, I do desire a week in spring to fully relax and immerse myself into that break so I can catch my breath.”
But the overall benefits of the spring break decision for the Adelphi community are clear for some students as it may work out better with their busy schedules. Second-year student Alyssa Furman said, “I honestly prefer the changes. I like having mini breaks that let me rest while not disturbing my routine. I do feel bad for those who were looking forward to going away for the holiday.”
Although this type of spring break might not be the perfect fit for all students and faculty, a lot of thought and consideration went into this decision.
“When we were planning for the spring semester, we realized that the calendar merited careful review by a broad group of constituents in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on our community,” Chris Storm, senior associate provost, explained. “We first looked to the public health representatives for guidance on how to think about the pandemic and what the implications for the health and safety of our community would be for various trade-offs.”
The five nonconsecutive day strategy was not the first option, but it was what they considered the best. “We did discuss options such as starting the semester late or ending it earlier,” Storm said. “However, we also recognized the demands of a full semester with no breaks and sought to find a way to provide some limited break opportunities for students going through the semester. This led us to the proposal that was adopted and communicated to the Adelphi community in the fall.”
Although some are worried that they will not actually receive any break from assignments and work, Storm said that throughout the spring semester, “we will continue to remind all members of the community to deliberately respect the intention of the scheduled break days to allow everyone the chance to enjoy a break.”
Erin Furey, outreach, training and mental health promotion coordinator in the Student Counseling Center, also weighed in. “At the Counseling Center we are looking at it as this is a loss for students and the Center is ready and willing to help in figuring out how students are going to move through this and teach skills and techniques to manage the stress and anxiety that might come with these unexpected changes.
“There is nothing we can do about this so let’s see how we can build some resilience for students around this, think about how 10 years from now you’re going to be able to manage decisions on the fly because you moved through this in college.”
Furey advised students not to squander the days off. She recommends planning ahead and trying to unplug. “Alternatively, some students those days are going to feel like they have to study all day so they are not falling behind in terms of course work. I think it’s also important to remind ourselves that while this is really rough, we are helping save lives and sometimes we forget that.”