Spring Semester Plans Released, Students Express Concerns

Spring+semester+will+include+a+hybrid+of+in+person+and+online+classes.+%28Photo+by+Hailey+Danielson+%7C+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29

Hailey Danielson

Spring semester will include a hybrid of in person and online classes. (Photo by Hailey Danielson | Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

 

On Oct. 1, the University of Utah announced its plan for the Spring 2021 Semester — a one-week extension of winter break and the removal of spring break. The new schedule contains a two-week online instruction period to replace spring break, similar to that of the Fall 2020 “circuit breaker.”

Dr. Martha Bradley-Evans, Senior Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Undergraduate Studies said she has been impressed by the creativity and commitment of U faculty as they have changed to teach in remote or hybrid situations.

In regards to the upcoming spring semester, Bradley said she and others who teach or work with students “look forward to the day when we can all be together on campus, in our classrooms, our labs or studios. But we aren’t there yet.”

“We are looking out for each other, staying safe and acting responsibly. Importantly, we are being flexible and resilient,” Bradley said.

Some students are concerned about the format of this schedule requiring them to work for three months straight, without any breaks. 

“It’s just having us have deadlines, week after week with no break. So it kind of puts a lot of stress on students, like for me, I never feel like I have time off,” said an anonymous third-year student majoring in computer science. 

The student emphasized the importance of giving students time to focus on other aspects of their lives without deadlines looming over them. 

“I think having a dedicated week off where there are no classes, where people can just breathe, try to be a kid again — with how stressful life is right now, just having class after class isn’t easy,” the anonymous student said. 

They also said they do not believe the fall circuit breaker was effective, to begin with. 

“I live on campus, and just looking at people’s windows at night, people aren’t home. So them canceling a break and then just putting everything online isn’t really keeping people from going on vacation,” the anonymous student said.

Abby Broadbent, a senior studying piano performance, also said a lack of a spring break is stress-inducing. 

“I usually don’t go out of town, It’s a time for me to catch up and do homework or run errands that I haven’t been able to yet. It’s not really a frivolous thing,” Broadbent said. 

Broadbent, who recently recovered from COVID-19, said even when she had the virus, she was worried more about schoolwork than her health.

“It was just really hard having [the virus] while being in school. That was honestly my biggest stressor while I had the corona was that I was like, ‘oh my gosh, I’m so behind, but never gonna catch up,’” Broadbent said. 

Broadbent said she also disliked the circuit breaker because she tried to practice piano on campus, but the buildings were locked. 

“These past two weeks, I just haven’t been able to use those resources. And my professor had to go find another piano to teach his lessons,” Broadbent said. 

Broadbent hopes the U will respond to student feedback, but the anonymous student suggested this may not be the case. 

“I don’t want to put the school on blast, because I know they are trying… but they’re kind of ignoring what the students want. They say they talk to the student body president, but the average student doesn’t have any interaction with them,” the anonymous student said. 

The anonymous student said they just want a break at some point. 

“I would be okay with starting the semester earlier, but having a dedicated week or two off where we all agree that we shouldn’t at least travel outside of the state and gather in big groups, and they give us that trust — in return, we don’t have to worry about deadlines for a couple of weeks,” the anonymous student said. 

 

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