Washington College’s decision to cancel fall break puts unnecessary pressure on students and professors

By Lexi Meola

Elm Staff Writer

With the COVID-19 pandemic, Washington College’s transition to virtual learning for the fall 2020 semester has been nothing but difficult for faculty and students.

This year, WC decided to cut fall break, which would typically occur the second week of October for four days. The decision was originally made when the fall semester was meant to be in-person and the schedule was condensed to prevent students from having extended time to leave campus and potentially contract COVID-19. When classes moved online, the schedule did not change back to include fall break. 

While those four days might seem insignificant to most, they are a necessary break for students and professors. After adapting to virtual learning, the idea of being constantly signed on to Zoom and other online learning platforms is physically and mentally draining to students.

“I definitely think I needed this break a little bit more because we are virtual. With virtual learning it is hard to ever be able to sign off,” sophomore AJ Gerardi said.

Since going virtual, WC has emphasized the importance of mental health with multiple emails from counseling services. However, by cancelling fall break this semester the College has proven that the mental health of their students and faculty is not a priority.

Fall break provides a small break for students to mentally relax from school and all work associated with it. Due to the school’s reckless decision to cancel it, students and professors will not get a break until Thanksgiving.

This means students and faculty are working for about three consecutive months with zero breaks. Weekends do not count, because students generally use this time to study for future tests and to catch up on schoolwork assigned during the week.

School is stressful. Students are dealing with the effects of a pandemic and a heated election all while trying to get an education. 

According to USA Today, “As the pandemic drags on, it’s clear that not all kids are all right. Nearly three in 10 parents said their child is experiencing emotional or mental harm because of social distancing and school closures, according to a nationwide Gallup poll in June.”

Some WC students have considered dropping classes, deferring for a semester, or even dropping a major or minor because of how incredibly stressful this situation has been.

 “I don’t know why they thought it was okay to get rid of it in the first place,” senior Will Reid said. “The days are all being blended together and not having the break makes it more difficult and it makes me question why they felt it was necessary to take away the break.”

Considering that this year’s classes started earlier than last fall semester — making the semester longer — the cancellation of fall break was a huge blow to students and professors.

Students are also frustrated with the lack of communication from the administration to students. Multiple emails and ever-changing plans are making students stressed and unsure of their steps for the next semester.

The WC administration should learn from their previous mistakes and give students a fall break.

Featured Photo caption: Washington College’s cancellation of fall break has taken a stressful toll on students and faculty. Photo By Izze Rios.

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