The Stockton Board of Trustees has been tasked with deciding the Spring 2021 Calendar, which currently has classes set to begin on Tuesday, Jan. 19. However, the Stockton Administration and Board of Trustees are considering pushing winter break back a week and completely eliminating spring break for Spring 2021.
Under the proposed resolution, which will be voted on by the Board of Trustees on Dec. 9, classes will begin on Jan. 25 and run straight through to May 7, the end of finals week. The previously scheduled spring break, March 14-21, will simply be another week of classes.
This decision will come just a week before the last day of finals, according to the meeting materials featured on the Board of Trustees’ website. Students previously expressed their disappointment in decisions made by the administration after they received notice of in-person class cancellations and residential move-outs just eight days prior to their implementation date following Thanksgiving. This prompted Christopher Catching, Vice President of Student Affairs, to send out an apology for delaying the information.
According to Dr. Manish Madan, the Faculty Senate President, the administration wanted to be proactive here by pushing classes back a week to avoid the spike in COVID-19 cases.
“Given that the COVID-19 numbers are rising up, we will potentially see a rise in cases in the early spring semester. Now, what that week will save us, in terms of the number of cases, our guess is as good as the next person. But, the idea was that we want to finish on time for the spring semester,” Dr. Madan stated.
In addition to limiting COVID-19 cases, the administration may also be attempting to stay open for the entirety of the spring semester. Anthony Agrifolio, Student Senate Vice President, commented on the potential shift: “In my mind, Stockton is saying ‘we’re staying open the whole semester if we don’t have spring break.’ They’re not going to have a random week where they say, ‘move everything out.’ There’s not a natural point for that.”
Anthony also expressed Student Senate’s pushback against the potential shift. “Everyone needs some type of break at some point. In college, you don’t really have any days off, like President’s Day, except for Thanksgiving and spring break.”
These concerns were echoed by Senate President Katherine Campion, who emphasized the need for a mental break for students. “They’re trying to think about everyone’s physical health and neglecting everyone’s mental health. After these past two semesters and living in our current world, mental health cannot be neglected.”
As a student leader with regular contact with the Stockton Administration, Anthony critiqued the potential decision: “I think a lot of students are going to be upset. It is the school saying, ‘we can’t police you enough, so we’re getting rid of spring break.’” Anthony added, “it’s going to be really bad, it’s going to be ugly. It’s going to blow up in their faces.”
According to Anthony, some students and staff have recommended a long weekend as opposed to a week-long break. Penn State has similarly substituted their spring break with three dates in their calendar as designated “wellness days” for students, according to their website.
Some faculty were also displeased by this potential change. Dr. Madan, who recently sent an email to faculty notifying them of the shift, stated, “I’m getting some replies on that email where faculty are expressing their concerns about not having the opportunity to unwind and rebound, given the semester load.”
As a faculty member, Dr. Madan also recognized the importance of having a break in classes for students and faculty to recharge. “I agree, I share these concerns, and I’ll be bringing these up in my next meeting with [President Kesselman].”
Dr. Madan recommended that students who do not agree with this decision should express their concerns in writing. “If the students are opposed to this resolution, I think they should write to the administration. We should then come up with alternative solutions if we don’t support this.” The Board of Trustees will meet on Dec. 9 to decide on the potential shift.