Lack of academic breaks through the semester affects student well being

Truman State University has canceled all breaks for the 2020 fall semester as an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19, while other colleges in Missouri are continuing to offer regular breaks from previous semesters.

The plan to forgo the normally scheduled breaks was first announced in an update letter posted online June 15. This post also announced that in-person classes would conclude on Nov. 24, with all instruction after that date being conducted online. 

“In order to provide students with courses of appropriate duration for the credit hours awarded, the University will forgo the traditional breaks observed during the fall semester,” the newsletter stated.

The scheduled breaks not observed this year are Labor Day, Midterm Break, and the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving Break. Truman is working on alternative methods for students to experience these breaks. There is currently a page on Truman’s website that compiles special offers and deals for Family Day. These deals include a coupon at the University Bookstore and offers for gift cards from various restaurants in the area.

Residence Life Director Jamie Van Boxel said there is no official registration process for students over Labor Day like Thanksgiving and winter breaks. 

“As a result, there are no exact numbers to how many students went home over Labor Day, and that the student advisor team did not encourage or discourage students to remain on campus” Van Boxel said.

Sophomore Ethan Anliker said he appreciates the thought behind not having breaks for student safety, but he thinks it does not do enough. He said he thinks students will continue to go home for breaks even if it is not recommended. He also thinks it makes the semester more stressful for students.

Northwest Missouri State University continues to offer traditional breaks, as classes were not in session on Labor Day. While smaller breaks are being observed, Northwest will also end in-person classes at Thanksgiving. This decision came before the start of the fall semester. 

Northwest has had a total of 408 total cases related to campus, with 15 being active. Truman has had a total of 107 cases related to campus, 11 of which are currently active. 

Northwest sophomore Jaiden Ritzinger said he is concerned about having breaks in the middle of a pandemic. He said breaks are nice for students to have so that they can have a day of rest, but he thinks they are problematic because they could result in a rise of COVID cases.

“Considering a lot of people who come to Northwest come from cities where the pandemic is a lot more apparent, it could set a dangerous precedent,” Ritzinger said.

University of Missouri is another school continuing to offer traditional breaks. Mizzou has had 1,630 student cases this semester. University of Missouri also offers traditional breaks, with 76 total active cases.