A little over a week before an already shortened, but much needed Fall break, students received an email detailing the plan for the Spring 2021 semester schedule.
The most shocking thing this email laid out was that spring break would be shortened to only one day, and would instead be spread out to create three long weekends throughout the semester: interterm break, Spring break, and Easter break.
These decisions were made to follow guidelines of the Pandemic Response Team (PeRT) in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 which increases when students travel off-campus, Provost Michael Hammond said.
The policy was reviewed by the Academic Policy Committee, faculty officers, Deans Council, department chairs and the Senior Leadership Team (SLT).
We at the Echo approach the newly revised Spring schedule with amounts of hesitation and concern, a sentiment echoed by many students around campus.
First, though the number of class days in the revised Spring semester schedule is one less than originally planned, the number of holidays and breaks has been shortened from five days to two.
One of these holidays taken away is Easter Monday.
This presents the dilemma that many students traveling home for Easter will need to either travel back to campus on Easter, perhaps cutting short time that would normally be spent celebrating the holiday with family, or return late to campus, possibly missing classes.
Another concern is that splitting up breaks into three long weekends will encourage the opposite of what was intended: traveling home or off-campus.
Though fall break was shortened to only a three-day weekend with hopes that fewer students would make the trip off-campus, many still took the weekend to travel home to family or take a trip with friends.
Posts on social media revealed students traveling as far as Colorado and West Virginia for their one day off.
If students choose to travel to this extent for each three-day weekend in the Spring semester, then the potential for bringing COVID-19 back to campus could actually increase.
A third reason for concern is the lack of room in the Spring semester schedule to allow students to take time off and rest.
For many of those students in time-consuming or stressful majors, longer breaks such as spring break provide much needed opportunities to take a break, sleep a desired number of hours or spend time doing relaxing activities.
“You need to take a break before you break,” an article published by CNBC said.
For both employees and students, time off from work is necessary to rest, recharge and prevent burnout.
BrainMD.com says that research shows that those who take breaks experience many mental and physical health benefits including living longer, increased productivity, more creativity and an improved mood.
Hammond said that the PeRT has been monitoring the developments of COVID-19 daily and will make the necessary changes for the safety of campus.
The Echo recognizes the hard work of Taylor administration to create the safest conditions for students on campus. Though impossible to create a schedule for the Spring semester schedule that will completely satisfy both students and administration, we appreciate that administration has approached this situation with thoughtfulness and prayer.
“All of us would rather have spring break,” Hammond said. “We understand that this is a step we are taking to give us the greatest possibility to continue with our Spring semester on campus.”