Students share opposing opinions on canceling spring break


In an email to the Mason community on Oct. 19, Provost Mark Ginsberg announced an updated plan for the spring semester, highlighting the elimination of spring break. With the elimination of spring break, the spring semester will begin on Jan. 25, one week later than previously announced. 

In a separate email, President Gregory Washington explained that the plan for the spring semester also includes a 10 percent increase in in-person classes, increased testing and the expansion of occupancy in residence halls. He added that many things, such as social distancing guidelines, altered move-in procedures and a mandatory COVID-19 test before arriving on campus, will remain the same in the spring.

For the spring semester, Mason will hold a mix of in-person, online and hybrid courses and the semester will end on April 30, followed by final exams. 

Similarly, other Virginia universities, such as Virginia Tech and Virginia Commonwealth University, have also moved to eliminate spring break in hopes of limiting student travel and in turn COVID-19 cases. 

Senior Brooke Stanley explained that the decision to eliminate spring break was a sound one.

“I am actually 100 percent for the elimination of spring break,” Stanley said. “With Mason resuming hybrid for next semester, it’s irresponsible to have a week where kids go all kinds of places to potentially bring back COVID-19 to campus and put all of the other students and professors at risk. I understand wanting a break, but we cannot take that risk. We shut everything down last year during spring break and that’s when everything went haywire.”

But, without spring break, there will be no pauses or days off in the spring semester, something senior Nick Steinmetz found concerning. 

“Mason canceling spring break is a move that spotlights how little the administration listens to students’ voices,” Steinmetz said. “The refusal to institute pass/fail and the cancellation of spring break creates an environment where no safety net exists to alleviate burnout during the worst pandemic in a century.”

Junior Brooke Kemph shared a similar opinion, worrying about burnout and maintaining adequate mental health in the spring. 

“The cancellation of spring break is something me and roommates have talked about a lot because we are all actually really upset about it. We get the reasoning behind it, but […] we rely on spring break to have a mental break from midterms and now we don’t get that, so I think if anything I’m going to be even more overwhelmed to not have a break that I otherwise would’ve had.”

VCU will hold two one-day breaks in February and March in place of spring break. Virginia Tech will hold five one-day breaks throughout the semester. Mason has made no such plans, with the current academic calendar indicating no breaks throughout the spring semester.