Sanjana Ravulapalli, Contributing Writer
VCU will have a phased return to campus in January but will not have a spring break, according to a university release on Thursday. Some students are critical of the decision to remove the traditional mid-semester break, while others say it is not “the end of the world.”
Junior public relations major Abby Reasor said that although the news of spring break being canceled is disappointing, it’s insignificant compared to larger problems such as the spread of COVID-19.
“I realized that it won’t be safe to travel anyways,” Reasor said. “Spring break would’ve been a boring week of getting ahead on homework, so I don’t think I will be missing out on fun experiences.”
However, Reasor said adding more reading days to the academic calendar would have been beneficial to students. VCU will have two reading days on Feb. 23 and March 24, according to the release signed by VCU and VCU Health System President Michael Rao.
“Although we know that not having spring break will be disappointing, it is important that you have some type of break.” — VCU and VCU Health System President Michael Rao
“Shorter breaks can give students the ability to breathe while staying engaged with their schoolwork,” Reasor said.
Graduate and undergraduate classes will begin Jan. 25, delayed from Jan. 19. The last day of classes will be May 5 for the Monroe Park Campus and May 7 for MCV.
“Our public health response team, which includes medical and infectious disease experts, recommended eliminating spring break to mitigate the risk of COVID-19,” the release stated. “This measure is consistent with many other universities in Virginia and across the country.”
The release stated that flexibility remains critical in reducing the spread of COVID-19, and that changes in conditions may lead to adjustments.
“Although we know that not having spring break will be disappointing, it is important that you have some type of break,” the release read.
Plans for the spring semester across Virginia universities vary. Radford University announced its plan to hold spring break at the end of the semester, ending classes a week early. The University of Virginia has not determined dates for its spring 2021 break, and James Madison University has scheduled the break for March 8-12.
VCU’s decision to cancel spring break drew criticism from students on Twitter.
“This online stuff Is already stressful for a lot of students and y’all taking away all of our breaks,” one user said in a tweet. “I let y’all have fall break but baby I’m going on spring break.”
Another Twitter user criticized the university for the placement of reading days in the academic calendar.
“Vcu really said we care so much about our students mental health that we’re canceling spring break and putting reading days after midterms,” the tweet reads.
Vcu really said we care so much about our students mental health that we’re canceling spring break and putting reading days after midterms n not near finals <3
— ❀ ❀ ❀ (@alvnna_) October 15, 2020
Senior fashion merchandising major Bria Wilbon said canceling spring break can have a negative impact on students’ mental health.
“I was so annoyed and bummed. I wasn’t even planning on traveling for spring break, but I was hoping to get a break,” Wilbon said. “It’s already stressful enough to do school online and have no real separation between school and relaxation time.”
Political science majors Angelica Tsvetkov and Chase Henzler said having a week-long break on the schedule would have relieved stress going into spring semester.
“The thought of not having a break adds more anxiety to a school year that has been already filled with more anxiety and stress than normal,” Henzler said.
Tsvetkov said the fall semester has been more work-heavy than usual and that losing the break is disappointing due to stress caused by COVID-19.
“So many people are struggling to support themselves by working multiple jobs, taking care of their families, and feeling the mental stress and strain that comes with living in a pandemic,” Tsvetkov said. “The thought of losing a week that we usually have to ease some stress from the semester is definitely overwhelming.”