Proposal to move spring break to a later date generates controversy
On Sep. 29, Humboldt State University’s administration announced an idea to move spring break for this academic year from Mar. 15-19 to Apr. 5-9, 2021.
In the meeting, Jen Capps, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, explained the student and community health argument behind delaying spring break.
“We face some challenges around making sure that our faculty, our students, staff, et cetera are safe, and how to bring folks from out of county into county, quarantine them, provide face-to-face instruction,” Capps said. “And then if they leave for spring break, what I’m hearing from facilities and different folks is they just don’t have the capacity to then require students to quarantine again.”
A few suggestions for how to maneuver the situation were made by University Senate members including Cindy Moyer, an HSU music professor.
Moyer pitched the idea to have break or rest days spread throughout the academic year to divert students from traveling and returning home.
“Five carefully strategically spaced days off spread out over the weeks in the middle of the semester,” Moyer said. “So that students are getting some time off, but not getting enough time off that they will go home.”
Monty Mola, HSU physics and astronomy professor, argued that spring break should begin a week later. The decision to move around spring break would have ripple effects on the greater HSU community.
Giovanni Guerrero, a fourth-year environmental science management major, believes moving spring break to early April would be too much of an adjustment for students and faculty.
“There’s a lot of stress on my back as a student, and I’m sure a lot of stress on the backs of teachers as well [as] our professors to meet deadlines and to carry out our rigorous university expectations,” Guerrero said.
Guerrero added that the spring break would give everyone a chance to emerge from isolation and take a breather from responsibilities.
“I think there’s a direct correlation with mental health. Right now we’re in a different sort of situation, virtual learning,” Guerrero said. “Sitting here at my desk inside my room for six hours a day, doing homework, attending classes and then doing my work with Associated Students. I have very little breathing room. Having a break, like a week break, where I don’t have to stay inside my room all day is super beneficial.”
Rich Alvarez, the Diving and Safety Officer in the HSU Scuba Diving program, is less concerned about the psychological impacts of a later spring break and more concerned about the practical implications.
For his diving certification program, Alvarez typically takes his students to Mendocino for open water dives where the diving conditions are more stable than anywhere in Humboldt. However with COVID-19 restrictions, he is only able to travel within the confines of the county.
“Traditionally, Trinidad doesn’t really get to the point where we would feel safe taking students into the water there until April and sometimes even late April,” Alvarez said. “So if they shift spring break to the fifth through the 12th, the question becomes, can we meet with them after spring break? And it kind of sounds like a no.”
If Alvarez can’t meet with his students after break to finish their diving certification, they will be unable to partake in open water dives.
“That takes that whole month of April out of contention, and then we were looking at trying to, either way, putting students into water conditions that may not necessarily be safe for what we’re trying to do, or having to get people most of the way through their certification, but not able to do the open water dives.”