SUNY New Paltz’s recent announcement that spring break will be replaced by five individual “Mind, Body and Spirit Days” over the course of the next semester was met with disapproval from students.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Barbara G. Lyman and Vice President for Enrollment Management L. David Eaton emailed the announcement to students on Sept. 29, stating that the reasoning behind canceling spring break is to limit the amount of traveling students do in order to keep the COVID-19 case count low.
There have been a total of 14 positive cases from students who have been on campus since Aug. 24, which is relatively low compared to some other SUNY universities, but can only be maintained by continuing practices of wearing masks and social distancing.
The spring 2021 semester is set to run the normal 15-week length, from Jan. 19 to May 3, with the “Mind, Body and Spirit Days” on Feb. 9, Feb. 24, March 11, April 9 and April 19.
Despite including the “required number of instructional days, while avoiding the risks to community health of week-long spring break travel to distant locations and social gatherings,” students feel that five sporadic days off during the semester will not give them the “brief respite” the college is hoping for.
Many students expressed wishes that the school either end the semester a week early or start it a week later.
“I understand them wanting to minimize spread. However, this is not the way to do it,” said second-year early childhood education major Erin Mulgrew. “I personally think ending the semester a week earlier is the best option for minimizing spread and giving us a well deserved break.”
It seems that next semester will most likely look similar to this semester, with a mix of virtual and in-person classes. Some students who struggle with the workload of online classes fear that a full-length semester without a long break will add to their feeling of burnout.
“I don’t think I ever felt so behind in school work than I did when online started,” said third-year psychology major Amanda Viera. “They say to take those days to relax and de-stress, but what makes them think we won’t be doing school work on those days? The way professors have been going about this whole online situation, I feel like it’s even more work that we are doing. Those days [off] aren’t going to do anything of what they hope for it to do.”