As a result of the university canceling spring break, the spring semester will now end on April 23, 2021, a week earlier than scheduled.
It is understandable why the university decided to cancel spring break. Taking actions to ensure a healthy and safe environment for the students, faculty, and staff amid the COVID-19 pandemic is vital.
“As a result of the impact of the global pandemic and the need to safeguard the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff, Florida A&M University has modified the academic calendar for the Spring 2021 semester. Spring Break has been canceled,” Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maurice Edington, Ph.D., said in a statement regarding the spring 2021 semester.
Of course, the cancelation of spring break shows that the university cares about the safety and physical health of the students. However, the lack of alternatives for an academic is questionable and whether the university has taken the well-being of its students’ health, mentally, into consideration.
Students need incentives to push through the remainder of the semester as their mental well-being is at stake without any substitution for spring break. We are now down to six weeks left, and the university has not offered any form of motivation.
Mental health issues are the leading hindrance to academic success. A study done by the Journal of Medical Internet Research on the effects COVID-19 has had on college students’ mental health in the United States uncovered that the majority of students experienced increased stress and anxiety due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Of the 195 students, 138 (71%) indicated increased stress and anxiety due to the COVID-19 outbreak,” the study said. “A vast majority of the participants (n=189, 97%) presumed that other students were experiencing similar stress and anxiety because of COVID-19… at least 54% (up to 91% for some categories) of participants indicated negative impacts (either mild, moderate, or severe) of COVID-19 on academic-related outcomes.”
COVID-19 has presented college students with an array of challenges. Most important, concerns with academic performances and depressive thoughts have arisen. The university should have considered how fifteen weeks straight of school, with no breaks, could be detrimental to our mental health. In turn, it will now show in our academic performance.
Alternative breaks that encourage students to remain in Tallahassee (or where they are
due to our remote setting) could have been the least the university could have proposed.
According to the National College Health Assessment, 40% of U.S. college students are impacted negatively by stress in a normal academic year. Imagine the effects this revised spring semester has had on students.
Though respite days (one day breaks given throughout the semester) are not necessarily useful, as some professors do not respect these days given and will assign work due on these days, the university offering 5 sporadic days off from class would not have gone without some acknowledgment from us students. Five days off, over the spring semester, was the least the university could have offered. Instead, we got a continuous, rushed semester packed with unresolved burnout.
The university’s lack of creativity, during unprecedented times, to take the well-being of students’ mental health into consideration in support of a successful academic semester is problematic.