As most of us are already aware, FSC has decided to cancel its 2021 Spring Break in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus.
“FSC is cancelling the 2021 Spring Break week, originally scheduled for March 8th to 12th,” FSC stated in an email sent to students in October detailing spring 2021 plans. “This decision is based on medical expert analysis of pandemic conditions and consistent with other institutions that monitor those conditions closely.”
Although I strongly support FSC’s decision to get rid of Spring Break—even if it means sacrificing a week’s long vacation in the middle of the semester—it is important to discuss the implications that it may have on students’ mental health, motivation and academic performance.
For some students, myself included, last semester was difficult for a lot of reasons. We have been weathering through a pandemic, which cut in half the amount of students were allowed to attend FSC in person last semester. This year has also been plagued with economic instability, racial tensions and great political divide.
“The state of the world really does have an impact, just how you go day to day,” junior Allison Rainey said. “I knew what was going on in the world and I didn’t find my education as important as making sure my family was safe and everything like that.”
I believe that FSC has done the best it can to combat the virus and keep engagement across campus in the safest manner possible through online events with strict mask mandates and social distancing rules for in-person events.
Since FSC extended Winter Break, students don’t get to have days off from schoolwork, which can be exhausting. Not being able to interact with friends can be stressful and lonely. On top of that, it can be difficult for students to go home and visit their families for an extended period without missing classes.
“I do think [not having Spring Break] will impact my mental health because college is stressful and there’s no arguing that,” junior Kate Hanna said. “Days off are more than just time to do whatever you want, it’s time to mentally relax and rejuvenate and recover from hours of mental strain.”
Both Rainey and Hanna agreed that although not having a break is discouraging, the school made the right decision in order to keep everyone safe from the virus.
“I completely understand [the school’s] decision to not have a Spring Break because you can’t monitor what people are doing or where they’re going, and I get not wanting to bring infected students back on campus,” Hanna said.
She also stated that hosting COVID-19 “safe” activities could help students get through the semester. This has been an issue that has plagued other colleges and universities as well, especially because last year, Spring Break travel contributed to the initial spread of COVID-19. In response to the current COVID-19 situation and student concerns over mental health, other institutions have implemented “mental wellness” days where no work is due.
These days are usually added in the middle of the week in order to prevent travel from students.
Although it is a little late for FSC to implement mental health days for this semester, if the situation with the virus does not improve, it’s an option that FSC should consider in the future in order to increase student morale in terms of schoolwork. For now, the school should focus on planning events and providing information to help students get through the semester.
“I think it would be a good move to add those mental health days, especially because this is taking a toll on everyone,” Rainey said. “School is hard enough and adding in a global pandemic makes it extremely rough, so I think having those days just to decompress, to just collect yourself would be very beneficial.”
If students find themselves having a hard time adjusting this semester, they can reach out to the Counseling Center for 30 to 50 minute sessions. Students can find out more information and schedule an appointment at the Counseling Center website.