Opinion | The UI’s spring break removal is negatively affecting the student population

Students at the University of Iowa are finding it hard to continue as the semester reaches a point in which they would have gotten a spring break.


Kate Heston

Photo Illustration by Kate Heston.

Katie Perkins, Opinions Contributor

University of Iowa students are struggling. We’re staring at computer screens and typing out online assignments until headaches commence and fingertips go numb. Needless to say, we need a break.

We deserve a break, and ironically, COVID-19-induced social distancing and online work is precisely the reason we need a break this year more than ever.

This is the first and only year the UI has chosen to take away spring break altogether in order to keep students from traveling and further spreading COVID-19.

However, the lack of spring break has hardly interfered with students’ travel plans. With the curriculum being almost entirely online, it is easy to travel as long as the destination has a decently stable internet connection. All the removal of spring break 2021 has done is burn students out and taken away a chance to catch up.

Other schools such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison replaced their spring breaks with a long weekend, which served as a mini version of the usual week-long break.

However, the UI and other schools like University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign gave us two, randomly spread out, day-long breaks that were not much of a break. For me, the Tuesday we got off in March consisted mainly of completing the usual amounts of homework and going to bed early in preparation for the following school day.

UI student and Gamma Phi Beta Sorority President Joslin Zaugg is struggling to stay on top of a busy schedule with no break in sight.

“I just noticed this semester has been dragging on for a very, very long time. It’s hard not having those breakups during the day, like going to class, or going to different meetings and whatnot. Now it’s all on Zoom and staring at your computer all day makes all of us drained,” Zaugg said.

Students are no longer forced to take minimal breaks throughout the school day, such as walking to class, as Zaugg suggested. Those 10-minute resets that used to be part of daily routines benefitted students more than anyone realized. Now, without them, the need for a weeklong break halfway through the semester with no academic responsibilities was even more necessary. UI students needed that reset in order to return motivated and well-rested. Without a break on the horizon, students are burning out.

Full-time UI student John Schmitt echoed this sentiment.

“It’s been really hard because unlike first semester where we have a Thanksgiving break and it splits up the semester a bit more, we don’t really have that so it makes it feel a lot longer and it’s just kind of demoralizing now that we don’t get a little break to relax and take time off school,” Schmidt said. “They’re kind of making you keep pushing and going forward. It has affected my mental health and maybe my grades because it’s tough to go week after week with no break.”

It is not natural to work nonstop. The brain needs designated periods of rest in order to rejuvenate and reach maximum potential. Even weekends are typically filled with studying, completing assignments, and building schedules for the weekdays to come in order to properly distribute time.

How else would one be able to manage an entirely online semester? Of course, there are occasional outings with friends. But during the pandemic, social life has rightfully diminished for most. Students’ routines filled with endless screen time, piles of schoolwork, and no rest period has taken a toll on mental health across campus.

The UI made a terrible mistake when deciding to remove spring break, and the reasoning behind it proved to be in vain.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.