(opinions) spring break

East Campbell Hall, April 1, 2020.

In light of the novel coronavirus, Virginia Tech has proposed new plans for spring break 2021. Tech’s new schedule will feature five one-day breaks in the months of February, March and April. This is meant to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by preventing students from traveling, and while this plan has good intentions, it also has its pitfalls.

While Tech’s plans for spring break 2021 can be easily explained to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, these plans are a complete trainwreck. These off days may be considered “breaks” in the eyes of administration, but students will most definitely be spending their time completing school work. The breaks proposed aren’t even on weekends, but consist of weekdays. This disrupts students’ work schedules and doesn’t truly offer them a break since they will most likely spend that day catching up on work.

Although this system is meant to help keep students physically safe, it does nothing to address the mental toll students are feeling and will continue to feel with no real rest in sight. This odd pattern of breaks helps no one, and there’s a chance it may not even stop students from traveling. If anything, it might incentivize students to travel, since they may see it as a form of a longer weekend.  

Joshua Ward, a junior majoring in wildlife conservation, shared his opinion of Virginia Tech’s plans.

I admit that I understand where Tim Sands is coming from, the lack of a large break will at least somewhat reduce students traveling larger distances, but simultaneously that could also increase the number of cases brought back to Blacksburg,” Ward said. 

“Students will still take advantage of those breaks, and in the cases where those breaks occur before or after weekends, some students will still come back. They might take precautions, but the number of students that will very likely travel for their singleton days off will make the chance of them bringing more infections back to Tech all the more certain,” Ward said.

Ward makes a good point. Students may travel no matter what. 

“I would propose that the university make a small, fall break-sized break in the center of the semester, no classes on a Thursday, Friday, followed by the weekend, and then go a step further and shorten the whole semester by a few days with the remaining days left, making up what normally would have been a spring break,” Ward said. “I recognize that the goal was to get students to not travel, but the fact of the matter is that students will travel anyways, they will seek an opportunity to complete their work for the week and then take a few days off to go somewhere, so I think the best option is to just reduce the window they have for travel while still giving them an opportunity to exhale and stave off burning out.”

My opponent argues that this year is a year of sacrifice, and while I agree with that, I believe students have sacrificed enough. While I know students have their qualms about the virus, I have seen dedication to the guidelines Tech has proposed for this past semester. He also argues that the format of next semester’s spring break will stop students from travelling, yet this is still not a guarantee. As mentioned above, if students want to travel, they will travel. We also need to consider Thanksgiving and winter break; although Tech is going completely online after Thanksgiving break to help stop the spread of the virus, there is no promise that students will stay home, and they may still travel and come back to Tech. There are no guarantees.

While I also see the reasoning behind the university’s decision, it still doesn’t truly solve the problem.  If anything, students will want to travel more to break out of their everyday routine, which then undermines the entire reason for the split spring break Tech has proposed. Students will either use that break day to catch up on work, which defeats the point of it being a day for break, or they will travel, which defeats the point of the spring break plans overall. We are cooped up in our homes, carrying on the same tasks day by day, with an increasing lack of motivation. I agree with the motive to lower case numbers; however, students need a break. We all need a break.