Spring break canceled, semester to start late, faculty senate votes

One-day breaks throughout the semester will take place of spring break



Spring 2021 will have a delayed start to prevent too many students from arriving in Pullman at once.

JENAE LAXSON, Evergreen roots editor

Faculty Senate voted to change spring semester classes to start Jan. 19, cancel spring break and include one-day academic breaks throughout the semester.

WSU is eliminating spring break because of public health concerns. The cancelation is a national trend, said Elizabeth Chilton, WSU provost and executive vice president.

“Institutions around the country are eliminating spring break,” she said. “We do not want to send students home for a week and have them come back.”

Instead of spring break, there will be three to four one-day academic breaks throughout the semester, Chilton said. 

Professors are concerned the lack of spring break could impact student’s mental health, said Season Hoard, clinical associate professor at WSU’s School of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs

Students and faculty need breaks, she said. Many students are doing more than just taking classes online, she said. People have been working from home for a significant amount of time. Staring at a computer screen all day impacts a person. 

WSU Spanish professor Vilma Navarro-Daniels said she does not think three or four days will be enough of a break for students or faculty.

There will be people who will work on these academic break days, she said. It is different than having an entire weeklong break.

The majority of COVID-19 cases at the beginning of the outbreak occurred when students went on spring break, said Mary Jo Gonzales, WSU vice president of student affairs.

“It was traced to Mexico, Kentucky and Florida,” Gonzalez said. “It is important that we do not create an environment like that in the Pullman community.”

The spring semester will also have a delayed start to prevent too many students from arriving at once even though classes will mostly be online, Chilton said. 

When students arrive, COVID-19 testing will be available and students will self-quarantine, she said.

Jefferson Griffeath, WSU business law professor, said he is concerned about the isolation students will face when students come back a week early with self-quarantine.

The spring semester was originally set to start on Wednesday, Jan. 20. After several professors expressed concerns over how this could negatively impact students, the date was changed to Tuesday, Jan. 19.

Michael Kahn, professor at WSU’s Institute of Biological Chemistry, said that if classes started on Tuesday, then classes with a Tuesday/Thursday schedule would not be impacted. He did not like the original start date.

Even with the changes taking place at the beginning of the semester, Chilton said WSU will end in early May as normal.