No fall break and a shortened spring break: What does that mean for JCU?


Rachel Scully

John Carroll takes away fall break and shortens spring break amidst coronavirus pandemic and online learning.

Ann Walsh, The Carroll News

In the response to COVID-19,  JCU has changed its academic schedule, which has eliminated  Fall Break and shortened Spring Break for the 2020-2021 academic year, while adding days elsewhere to compensate for it.

Breaks allow students to recuperate from late night studying, paper writing and school in general. They also allow faculty to take a break from grading and lecturing. Breaks help prevent burnouts. 

Due to COVID-19, these breaks could be extremely unsafe for everyone both on and off campus. A study done by economists Daniel Mangrum and Paul Niekamp entitled “College Student contribution to local COVID-19 Spread: Evidence from University Spring Break Timing” concluded there was a significant rise in COVID-19 cases after students returned from traveling for spring breaks at all universities in 2020. 

Recognizing this risk, Provost and Academic Vice President Steven Herbert explained the factors that contributed to these decisions. “The logic was that sending students, and faculty and staff as well, away for Thanksgiving and bringing them back afterwards put not only our community but also the families and the communities that they would visit over break at greater risk for spread of both COVID-19 and the flu.”

The thought that came across many John Carroll students after hearing that classes were online this semester, was that the schedule could go back to the original version which included a fall break. Herbert explained that it’s not that simple. “The reality is that there are many moving parts that go into planning how a semester is delivered, and changing the timing often has unintended consequences that must be managed.” 

Despite what some may think, the online semester continues to drain students academically. Junior Lily Lathon said, “Doing all the work at home and online is exhausting, and I would love for even one day off.”

Associate Academic Vice President James Krukones offered tips to prevent students from becoming overwhelmed and burnt out, especially having fewer days off than usual. These tips include: maintaining a regular schedule as much as possible, eating meals at a table and not the desk, getting a good night’s sleep, taking a walk around the block to spend time away from the computer and reaching out to friends in a socially distanced manner. 

John Carroll administrators made their decision based on research that extended breaks for universities lead to increased COVID-19 cases. Although there will not be as much of a break this semester as there has been in the past, evidence indicates that it is not safe for students. John Carroll administrators made a decision based on that evidence. Many students understand this decision even though it can make school more difficult. 

Lathon said, “It’s conflicting because we need a break academically, but also it’s not safe to go out … and possibly cause an outbreak.”