Editor’s note: the original headline of this opinion piece was insensitive to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact and has been changed.
The coronavirus pandemic has truly thrown Michigan colleges and universities for a loop.
On Oct. 2 Ferris, among other universities, cancelled the fall break and told students that classes will be finished strictly online until the end of the semester. On top of the cancellation of a fall break, students will not be receiving a spring break either.
Spring break is arguably the best break of the college school year and although I understand the precautions behind canceling our spring break, I feel as though the dangers of travel are inevitable. The cancellation is meant to keep students on campus and deterred from traveling around the globe spreading coronavirus. However, students are traveling already. I have heard of multiple students traveling around Michigan and the United States throughout the school year. My roommate is even going to Florida for a weekend “just because.”
And who’s to say that students will not decide to go on spring break anyway? Classes are online and easily portable.
Students who would have decided to stay safe and inside Michigan are also being penalized. Without a spring break, there is no time to see your family for a week or participate in self-care inside your own home.
Canceling spring break will also be a huge hit to student mental health. Rest is an important aspect of growth and health, and spring break is a time for students to take a break from their rigorous course loads. With the current stress of new online classes and a global pandemic, I fear that some students might mentally collapse and burn out under the pressure of it all. This happening can discourage newer students in terms of effort or even finishing their degrees. Research has shown that taking vacations and breaks from studies can help improve mental health, reduce stress and decrease anxiety levels.
Some schools such as Central Michigan are opting to have “wellness days” sprinkled throughout the spring semester. A wellness day would prohibit professors from teaching on that day, but not necessarily from having assignments due. This quick-fix does not quite cut it for me.
Personally, I would start to use a wellness day to work an extra shift at my job or catch up on homework for the week. Defeating the whole purpose of a “break.” I usually use the promise of a spring break as my motivation to push through my most draining classes.
With the cancellation of spring break, I urge all students to pay extra attention to their health. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep and proper nutrition. Do the occasional face mask or buy yourself a new set of nails. There are also counseling services available for all students at the Birkam Health Center if you are struggling with your mental health.