Spring Break canceled to limit spread of COVID-19

Although SIUE will not be taking a week off for spring break this semester, individual departments may schedule days off in order to lighten the load for students. 


Chancellor Randy Pembrook said the decision to cancel spring break was made to prevent students from mixing bubbles, then returning to campus.  


“People get used to living within bubbles; it can be your family, it can be your roommates, it can be a team. So within that bubble, hopefully everybody’s practicing safe behaviors and you create a level of safety,” Pembrook said. 


Pembrook said while he understands breaks are important for students, he believes canceling spring break is the safest option for the spring semester. 


“We’re trying everything we can to create a safe environment. I know a lot of people like to travel, student break is important, some people do alternative spring break and do humanitarian, social kinds of outreaches, but in this unique spring semester we think it’s the best route to help everybody get through the classes safely,” Pembrook said. 


Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jeffrey Waple said not having spring break allowed classes to start a week later, while still ending the first week of May as planned. 


“Really the rationale behind that [decision] was to get past the 14 days of New Year’s, and the people that traveled, [who] would be quarantined if people had exposure over New Year’s. So that’s why we pushed it back a week,” Waple said. “Looking at our testing that we’re doing right now, and the really, really low positivity rate, it seems to be working … So we’re starting a week later, spring break is gone and we’re still getting out that first weekend in May.”


Many universities are canceling spring break, but some are having individual days off throughout the semester called “wellness days.” Waple said while there are no university-wide wellness days planned, separate departments or faculty members may decide to have them on smaller scales.  


“If we had started school [a week earlier] … we could build in a couple days on here and there. So I believe individual departments or faculty are going to look into a day off here, a day off there,” Waple said. “... Student Affairs, we’re taking a week in March and we’re not going to have any meetings, any Zoom meetings. We’re going to give our staff time to catch up, work  on projects.” 


Lisa Thompson-Gibson, coordinator for outreach and prevention initiatives and staff counselor of Counseling Services, said students concerned about burnout due to not having a break may benefit from a few coping strategies. 


“Spring has a tendency to be a little bit more demanding than fall in general, and so being able to prepare for that early I think is really helpful for all of us,” Thompson-Gibson said. “So in terms of how to combat the ideas of burnout, perhaps really organizing yourself earlier on, pacing yourself, coming up with … something that’s sustainable rather than perhaps falling back on practices that sort of get in the way of success, like procrastination and those last minute kinds of things that can lead to feeling depleted or anxious or overwhelmed, I think would be really important throughout the course of the semester.” 


To learn more about Counseling Services, visit their website.


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