Spring 2021 plan leaves students fighting to reinstate spring break

AU replaced spring break with “Wellness Week”

Spring 2021 plan leaves students fighting to reinstate spring break
Cherry blossoms in bloom on an empty campus.

Since American University’s cancellation of spring break, due to concerns over students spreading the coronavirus from travel, students have petitioned the University to reverse course, even after it tried to compromise with a week of reduced work: “Wellness Week.”

In lieu of spring break, typically held in mid-March, AU announced a “Wellness Week” from March 7 to 13, giving students a break from assignments, readings and exams, but still requiring them to attend classes. 

“Wellness Week is a very frivolous excuse, whereas a [spring] break would help us be able to regroup and take time for our mental health,” said Natalie Paine, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. “Wellness Week seems like a very disproportionate way for us to gain back our mental capacity for school.”

Aliza Khan, a freshman in the School of International Service, created a petition that garnered over 200 signatures as of Jan. 19. It calls for a reinstatement of a spring break for mental health purposes.

Since AU went virtual, Khan has experienced challenges living internationally and feels a spring break is more than just a time to travel.

“It will be very hard to stay motivated,” Khan said, if AU sticks with its decision to cancel spring break. “They are trying to limit travel; however, we are not going to be on campus except for a few exceptions.”

Students said that spring break is more than just a period to have fun, party and travel. It allows them to catch up on work they missed and take some time to focus on their mental health.

“Online classes have caused a relapse with me mentally,” said Grace Zopelis, a freshman in the School of Public Affairs. “Getting rid of our break would just tank my motivation.”

Throughout the semester, Jeffrey Volkmann, executive director of AU’s Counseling Center, saw many students affected by Zoom fatigue, leading some to experience trouble with virtual learning. Volkmann said that about 60 percent of students that go to the Counseling Center struggle with academics.

“Depending on how people are using self-care, breaks are really important,” Volkmann said.

gmatassa@theagleonline.com

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