COVID-19 strikes Gonzaga University again as it has been announced spring break for the 2021 spring semester is canceled and it makes no sense.
Spring break is a perfect time during the semester to give students a moment to relax from the everlasting pressure of classes. It has become a staple of helping the mental health of students.
When I first heard that GU was canceling spring break, I thought it was a joke. It seems so ridiculous that the school would completely remove a full week off from classes. This doesn’t mention the fact that to replace the break, they gave us one extra reading day for the semester in March.
For a university that aims to develop its students as a whole, not taking into account the importance of having a break and time to prepare oneself for the final stretch of the semester is simply not on par with its own values.
I’m not alone in my feelings about this. The same day that they made the announcement there was already a petition to give us back our break. The petition wasn’t even started by a current student, but a graduate who clearly understands more about the mental health of students than the school administration.
What may be even more frustrating than losing the time off for spring break is that there are so many ways the school could have gone about this that would be significantly better.
Obviously, I can see that there are valid reasons to cancel a nine-day break in the middle of a pandemic so to limit the ability for students to travel and then potentially spread the virus. This just becomes unconvincing when looking at fall semester still having Thanksgiving break.
Thanksgiving break is a perfect example of what GU could do instead of completely canceling the week off from classes. Give students the break and if they decide to travel elsewhere then they aren’t allowed to come back to campus.
This is a perfect compromise. Students are given the much needed break from classes, people can travel off-campus if they want to, and people who want to stay on campus still have that option at the expense of their ability to travel.
They could even allow people to travel and come back with the requirement they provide a negative test before they are allowed to return to their dorms, and if they test positive, they have to quarantine.
The school hasn’t shown that they are willing to test as many people as they need to in order to keep up to date on their numbers and safety.
Another option would be to give us the week off but restrict travel. I would gladly take the week off even if I couldn’t go home and visit with people.
Realistically, it makes no sense that the school is so cautious around letting people leave for breaks mid semester but is completely open to students coming to campus after summer or winter break.
There is a lack of consistency in the school’s decision making and it feels GU isn’t considering how the students are going to be impacted enough.
At first glance there may be a silver lining in that with the cancellation of spring break, they pushed back the start to the semester creating a week longer winter break. This is until you realize it was already a shorter winter break to begin with.
So just when you think maybe something good could come from losing the week off, it is ripped away as it is merely giving us something that is standard in other years.
The school has clearly made a choice that is hard for students to support. Students have to shift their hope to the school changing their mind or at the very least, doing better in the future.