By: Bianca Viana
Last month, spring break during a pandemic made headlines when authorities in Miami Beach had to impose a curfew as U.S. college students flocked to the area in defiance of Covid-19-related guidelines. Among them were many Adelphi students as evidenced by their social media posts where numerous photos showed them on the beach, going to indoor venues where social distancing was not observed, and with no masks in sight. It seems the flexibility of virtual instruction led a number of students to take their classes on vacation with them.
Spring-break-related travel was exactly what the University’s administration was trying to prevent when last semester they announced we wouldn’t be having our expected week-long spring break in March and would instead be getting six days as a part of mini-spring break: March 10, 20 and 21, April 1 and 16 and May 3. The original decision upset many students who felt that having random days off wouldn’t be enough of a break from doing work and stressing about school. However, we tried to remain optimistic because none of us knew if maybe this would be beneficial to us after all.
Which is why many remain upset about what they saw from their peers on social media. Noah Moss, a sophomore, said, “Seeing students traveling during this time has been pretty frustrating. I’m disappointed with how many students have no sympathy for others and only take themselves into account when making these decisions to travel. I’m managing to find ways to have fun in a safe manner and I wish others would do the same. We have to continue following guidelines in order for all of us to be healthy and have life return back to the way it used to be.”
The Delphian asked Sentwali Bakari, the vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students, what he thought of the decision some students made to travel.
“While we obviously can't stop students from traveling altogether, the spread-out days off provided much-needed breaks and discouraged more significant numbers of our community gathering with others on ill-advised spring-break gatherings,” he said, adding that there was a slight uptick in the number of Covid cases in March. “However, we believe it would have been worse with a traditional spring break. Adelphi's current positivity rate is 0.6 percent with only one student in campus quarantine. I give thanks to our students for their commitment to keeping our campus community safe.”
That doesn’t change the way students like Moss feel about not having a spring break. Many are already coping with Zoom fatigue, but having to essentially go an entire semester with no real break has just led to burnout for many. Serena Gin, a sophomore said, “I felt cheated out of a break. There was no break whatsoever. On days where we had ‘off’ I would catch up on my schoolwork and just pick up more hours at my job.”
Most students have spent these days off doing the same. Students need a break, a real break. A regular semester is hard enough, but completing a whole semester via Zoom is a far more difficult task. Senior Jacquelyn Smiley agreed. “This spring break was a joke. I didn’t even feel like we had a break since there were still assignments due on our days off and the days off were not consistent.”
She said she was even more upset that during the SGA Feedback forum held on December 3, many students told the administration students were already planning to travel regardless of health and safety guidelines, and others said this concerned them.
Bakari said of the students who followed University policy, “We appreciate that nearly everyone in the Adelphi community has acted this academic year responsibly, and we haven't had to go back to all remote instruction.”
He added, “We all need to recognize that following medical and public health guidance protects ourselves and our friends, family and colleagues. While we see the light at the end of the tunnel, it's important not to try to go back to pre-pandemic behaviors too soon.”
Spring break is designated to be a much needed mid-semester break for students; it is not solely there for the purpose of traveling or vacationing. Most students also look forward to spring break to go back home and visit family. Some students also use spring break to pick up more hours at work. It is understandable that the university had hoped to limit travel, but many students agree there could have been a way to still allow a week-long spring break.
A junior, who asked their name to be withheld, said, “For example, the administration could have given students their week-long spring break and then followed up with a two-week strictly remote mode of instruction afterwards. Another option would have been that students who returned to campus after traveling be required to take a negative Covid test upon arrival.”
The Adelphi community has been lucky that Covid-19 numbers did not spike too much after the amount of students who still chose to travel for spring break. It is important that we continue to follow safety guidelines and do our part in stopping the spread.