It's the end of March already, and the only thing that I have been really thinking about is that I am tired, and I want a break. The further we get into the semester, the more we struggle with not having a spring break — well, I am at least. The reading days just haven’t done it for me, and I am sure my fellow students can agree. My biggest issue with the reading days really boils down to two things. The first is the lack of a break in the endless monotony that is this spring semester. My second qualm is the general ineffectiveness of the termination of spring break. News flash, admin: Plenty of students still travel with online classes, whether or not you schedule them a week off.
Let’s talk about students traveling first. With or without the scheduled spring break days, online school gives the option of mobility. Many of us taking online classes have seen other students joining Zoom calls from their car, the pool and even the airport. Travel plans didn’t have to be canceled, they just had to include you having Wi-Fi access for your 2 p.m. class. To come totally clean, I am a culprit of this. My family had planned a trip to travel from our homes across the country and meet each other in the middle. I know I am a part of the problem by traveling, especially across state lines, but like the other students who decided to travel, I really felt like I needed it. With my family all living in different states now, the opportunity to all be together is a rarity. Match my FOMO of seeing family with my extreme Zoom fatigue and taking a few days off with overlapping reading days seemed like a good idea.
Those reading days that I thought I would have free to spend time with my family were actually spent cramming in my homework as fast as I could so I could attempt to enjoy a little bit of my trip. When the only two consecutive reading days fall on the same week as midterms, it is really hard to believe the university intended us to have any time off to relax at all. Syllabuses were made to account for no spring break, but they were not created to make sure we were able to have a break on reading days.
The nature of online school is that there is more work built in so the professors can have a better gauge on students' understanding of the material and, more importantly, their engagement with it, and I understand that. With that said, online school for me has been a contestant flow of homework, papers and projects. It should be said that some teachers took matters into their own hands to help students, like that one very kind Spanish teacher who understands this and makes sure her student can have some free time on their reading days. My two reading days, while I was actually on my own personal spring break, were spent writing a midterm that I couldn’t finish before leaving for my trip because of my other mass amounts of homework and multiple midterms.
The substitutive plan for reading days just simply did not work. I understand that it was done with good intentions to protect students and faculty as well as the greater Tucson community. With that said, students need a break — I need a break — and the absence of any sort of spring break is becoming more and more obvious the further we get through the semester. I am exhausted and constantly stressed about the next assignment due and making sure I did all of my weekly quizzes, reading responses and discussion posts. Now as I am subjected to watching students from other schools visiting beaches and actually having a full week off, I’m getting a little upset and a little jealous.
Yes, traveling when we are so close to getting over this pandemic may not be smart or considerate but having virtually no time off doesn’t feel like the right answer either. I admitted my truth of being a part of the problem so we could talk about another problem of depriving students of a second to catch their breath. Breaks exist for a reason; students need time off to recover and rest before you throw them back under a heap of homework. There is no one right answer when it comes to how to handle things during this pandemic, but it’s very evident this is not the right answer. The well-being of the students’ needs to be taken into account in more ways than their exposure to COVID-19.
Lauren (she/her) is a political science major from Baltimore.