Tori O’Campo

When planning for the first Spring semester in Whittier College’s module system, students may have noticed one glaring absence: Spring break. Despite the missing week off of classes during the Spring semester, the difference between days off in the 2020 – 21 academic calendar compared to last year’s calendar is only two days.

In 2019 – 20, Whittier students enjoyed 27 break days, accounting for mid-semester breaks, Thanksgiving break, Winter break, Spring orientation, and Spring break. In 2020 – 21, students have seen 25 days off, including module transitions, Thanksgiving break, Winter break, Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance, and Cesar Chavez Day observance. While this is the first year that the school has observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Cesar Chavez Day, there are still two more days of attending classes than in the previous academic year.

Photo courtesy of Emerson Little/ Quaker Campus.

While it may seem strange to remove Spring break from the academic calendar, there are more sporadic days off between each module and for observance that account for the absence of a Spring break. “I personally would have rather had the traditional week off,” said third-year Manzie Allen. “I’m not even sure when the spread out days are happening.”

Whittier College is not the only higher education institution moving away from Spring break in lieu of reapproaching academic schedules to accommodate COVID-19 challenges. Universities across the country have opted out of the traditional week-long Spring break and replaced them with multiple “wellness days” throughout the semester, which has been met with varying responses from students. Associate Professor of Psychology at Assumption University Sarah Rose Cavanagh said in an interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education that, because students are accustomed to pacing their semesters in expectation of a break, foregoing Spring break makes “things potentially worse, instead of better, in terms of students’ choices with regard to stress reduction.” However, she also recognizes the potential restorative benefits of multiple scattered single-days off, especially when breaks come as a surprise.

Some private colleges, such as Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, are used to not having a Spring break with their yearly schedule including one Friday off during March rather than a week-long break. In an editorial released by the BYU student-press The Daily Universe, one student wrote that their “angst at the lack of BYU’s spring break is higher than ever,” due to the “torture” of the long-winded academic circumstances during COVID-19.

“There are so many kids who go to Whittier and each and every one of them has a different situation going on wherever they are.” said Allen. “I think Spring break is an important time for college students to be able to relax and take a break from whatever they have going on.”

Photo courtesy of Emerson Little/ Quaker Campus.

While the nation-wide debate over how to handle Spring break during COVID-19 may be polarizing, Whittier College’s approach falls into a middle ground. Without a week-long Spring break, the Spring semester has three single-day breaks, with one two-day break on Monday, April 6 and Tuesday, April 7 that provides a long weekend between Module 2 and Module 3. Last year, the only days off in Spring Semester were during the week of Spring break, meaning that this semester’s amount of days off are the same as previous years’ despite them being spread apart.

“I think a lot of students will be quite annoyed with [the new break schedule] because of the stress of classes and work and personal lives,” said Allen. “These things are always hanging over our heads no matter what.” While there are no official “wellness days” amongst these days off, the Student Life Division has been collaborating to provide events and resources for students during high-stress weeks.

Whether the sporadic break approach will prove to be a better approach than the traditional Spring break model while under distance-learning circumstances is still up for debate, as students across the Whittier Poet community and the country begin their Spring semesters.

Featured image: Courtesy of Emerson Little/ Quaker Campus.


  • Tori O'Campo has worked for the Quaker Campus since 2017, and is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the Quaker Campus. She most enjoys writing about art, music, and culture.

Tori O'Campo has worked for the Quaker Campus since 2017, and is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the Quaker Campus. She most enjoys writing about art, music, and culture.

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