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Spring Break changed to accommodate for COVID-19

On Oct. 16, the VSU Office of Academic Affairs announced there will be no spring break. Although there is no spring break, those five days will be spread throughout the semester as “wellness days.”

These wellness days are Feb. 16, March 17, April 2, April 15 and May 3, which include no classes, homework or assessments.

This decision was made with the help of the entire SGA.

“We followed the lead of institutions within the USG,” Melissa Wolfe, SGA president, said.

Having a lot to do with pandemic, the decision was made with the thought of students going to Florida and returning with exposure to COVID-19.

“With that impacting the end of the spring semester into the summer, who knows how that would affect the fall semester,” Wolfe said. “It’s a domino effect.”

Wolfe is positive about the impact and efficiency of wellness days for students across campus.

“I’ve heard a lot of students say they have felt overwhelmed this semester due to not having breaks,” she said. “We wanted to take that feedback as an opportunity to give students a restful moment without travelling.”

On the wellness days, student facilities such as the rec center will still be open for use according to Wolfe.

Dr. Robert Smith, provost and vice president of academic affairs, said one of the purposes behind these wellness days is the concern for stress on students, faculty and staff with no spring break.

April 2 will give students a three-day weekend. On May 3, faculty will be available to help students prepare for finals.

“For the sake of everyone’s mental health, we are sprinkling those five days through the semester as break days,” Dr. Smith said.

Along with no spring break, there will not be a delay or early ending of the semester. The announcement includes the original start and end date to the semester Jan. 11 through May 7.

“We’re putting five instructional days back in, and taking five days out,” Dr. Smith said. “So this semester will begin and end at the same point.”

COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon, so Center of Disease Control guidelines will still be followed Dr. Smith said.

“Some people are going to be disappointed, but we’re in a once in a hundred year pandemic,” he said. “These are not ordinary times, and we did not do this lightly.”

Dr. Smith said a 10-day break in the middle of the term would bring a large risk of COVID-19 cases on campus.

Last spring the pandemic was just beginning, and the severity of the coronavirus wasn’t recognized. Students were still travelling to packed beaches in Florida.

Tectonix GEO teamed with X-Mode Social to record cell phone usage in Ft. Lauderdale during March 2020.  Around 5,600 anonymous cell phones were retrieved.

Over the rest of March, Tectonix followed movements of the cellphones to record how easily the country can be impacted by not following social distancing guidelines.

Next to the data from Tectonix, there was footage from news sources across the country of crowded beaches.

As a result of attending spring break, colleges such as Ball State University and University of Tampa announced an increase in COVID-19 cases going into April.

This is when many campuses began to shut down for the remainder of the semester.

Dr. Joel Harper, professor of English, agrees with not having a spring break.

“It’s not a perfect situation, and I understand the tradition of spring break,” he said. “Given the current pandemic, I feel like it would be almost irresponsible to go off and possibly bring illness back.”

Lauren Brewer, junior early childhood education major, said the wellness days seem helpful, but a consecutive break is more beneficial.

“A day off versus a week off does not compare,” she said. “Having those days off allows me to catch up on a week’s worth of assignments, or have time to relax.”

Written by Jonnie Brewer, Staff Writer. Photo courtesy of Bethany Davis, Graphic Designer

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