Students and staff react to the loss of spring break: ‘I am so burnt out right now’


Mohammed Islam

Winona State University’s administration decided to cancel its planned five-day 2021 Spring Break due to caution surrouding travel that could occur in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. In place of Spring Break, students will receive three non-class break days. Students and faculty members have expressed varying opinions on the decision.

Kellen Brandt and Teresa Anderson, features writers

As the weather gets warmer and the sun starts shining this spring, Winona State University students and staff are reminded of the lack of a Spring Break week.
Earlier in the school year, Student Senate and administration at Winona State chose to eliminate its annual Spring Break and instead give students five break days and end school earlier.
Clara Kuerschner, a fourth-year student majoring in secondary mathematics education and social studies & history teaching, as well as president of Student Senate, addressed some of the questions and frustrations surrounding spring break days this year.
“We want to keep our students as safe as possible and if that means we have to cancel Spring Break in favor of moving the end of the semester up early and if that’s going to save lives, then that’s the best choice that we could have made,” Kuerschner said.
Spring Break days are given to provide students a day completely without homework, pre-recorded lectures, or class but much like Spring Break, students are encouraged to decide for themselves if they choose to relax or catch up on school work.
As for students and faculty members traveling, Student Senate only hopes for members of the Winona State community to be safe.
“We can’t physically restrain people from getting on an airplane and going to wherever they’re going to go,” Kuerschner said. “If they’re going to travel then they’re going to travel, but we just want to promote that they do it safely.”
Tamara Berg, director of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Winona State, spoke about Spring Break and her plans for the month.
“I can totally understand why that decision was made and I really appreciate that it was made in cooperation with students on [Student] Senate,” Berg said.
April Herndon is an English professor at Winona State and said it is a hard adjustment moving from a typical full Spring Break off to individual days off instead.
“I will admit that I miss it,” Herndon said.
Berg has children and a partner with children she is not able to often see during the school year, so Spring Break has always been an important time for Berg and her family, she said.
With everything happening in the world, Berg said she and her partner are taking precautions and going to Las Vegas to see her partner’s son play golf.
“We decided that it would be worth it to go and do and we are taking precautions to have less exposure on the flight and wear double masks in the airport like CDC recommends,” Berg said.
Among other precautions, Berg and her partner are planning to travel as safely as they can per the CDC’s guidelines.
Professors and students have mixed feelings about the Spring Break days and how they take those days off.
Herndon said she does a good job of taking them off completely and really getting a break.

For Berg, she does not get much of a day off due to her schedule.
“The Spring Break days for me don’t really have much of an effect on my work schedule because even if I’m not teaching a class that day, I’m catching up on things and grading, so it’s not like I’m taking off on those days,” Berg said.
Much like Berg, some students are struggling to take the Spring Break days off as well.
For first-year student Dane Rutledge, majoring in exercise & rehabilitative sciences-movement science, he doesn’t believe he is able to take full advantage of his Spring Break days.
“For anatomy, for example, we would have our Spring Break day and then we’d have a quiz or a test the day after that,” Rutledge said. “We needed to study for that, so it’s like you don’t really get that break day.”
Victoria Cassen, a first-year elementary education major at Winona State, also does not feel as if she is able to take a real break on Spring Break days.
“It’s just the one day a week, randomly, so it doesn’t really feel like you have anything off because you’re still doing homework, even if nothing is really due, it’s still just another day,” Cassen said.
Kuerschner commented on the dates given off to students, saying Student Senate requested five Spring Break days off for students but the university’s admininistration ultimately chose the days that would replace Spring Break.
“If I were going to make a guess as to why they didn’t pick a Monday or a Friday for a Spring Break day, [it would be] to limit the amount of traveling that students could do in that time as a way to keep students a little bit more safe and kind of promote not traveling,” Kuerschner said.
Rutledge said he believes the Spring Break days are oddly placed and wished they had been a Monday or Friday to give a long weekend.
Rutledge suggested even clumped days would be better than a random Tuesday saying it would be nice to have a Wednesday and Thursday off to actually give more of a break and not just hit the 5 days off administration promised.
Like Berg, Rutledge chose to take a Spring Break vacation since his classes were online and he was still able to attend them via Zoom.
“When I was in Florida, I would do classes every single day, still join my Zoom and it didn’t really feel like a vacation,” Rutledge said. “It felt like I was there for a day and then came back home.”
Rutledge went with some friends and their grandparents and said they hardly saw anyone while they were there.
“When I went down to Florida, it wasn’t like I was staying in an airbnb with a bunch of people, it was with a couple of friends and their grandparents,” Rutledge said. “We weren’t partying or doing anything crazy.”
Rutledge talked about how he is getting burnt out from this year and is struggling with spending so much time in his room.
Like Rutledge, Cassen said she is burnt out, but said if she went on vacation without an official break, she would be too worried about missing school and not being able to catch up on homework.
“I am so burnt out right now, I just feel like it’s never-ending and I never feel like I have a break,” Cassen said.
Taking a vacation was not an easy choice for Rutledge.
“So for me, I spent too much time inside, and I felt like I was stuck in this position and, I don’t know, it’s kind of selfish I guess to say, but for me, I needed to go on that little break,” Rutledge said.
“I’m not gonna lie that deciding to take the spring break really does feel like a soul lifter,” Berg said. “I get it that we’ve been on lockdown, so I’m doing everything I can to reduce our risk as we travel because I think that is a big concern.”
Berg does not teach any classes in person and has no commitments on campus until mid-April.
“I don’t feel there’s a lot of risks that I’m bringing to anyone in my personal or professional circle,” Berg said. “It’s just sort of my own personal risk and we’ve decided that it’s worth it.”
Students and faculty members are left to freely decide to take time off school, or bring school with them via Zoom, or to take the Spring Break days as their only breaks wherever they are.
“I really hope that students take those break days for themselves,” Herndon said. “I know it’s really easy to try to use them to catch up or do that sort of thing, but I really really hope that students just really check out on those days as much as they can.”
Herndon advises students to stay away from their computers and Zoom during break days to allow them to recharge and get a real break from school for the day.
“Hopefully students are taking advantage of having those days off, whether that means sleeping in, doing something for themselves or catching up on homework,” Kuerschner said.