In a recent email from the Office of the President, the Illinois Institute of Technology has decided to permanently install study days in place of spring break for the future of the university.
The study days were initially put in place on November 11, 2020 which pushed the spring 2021 semester start day back by one week. The study days were meant to replace a week-long spring break to discourage travel during the pandemic, rather than taking the safer option of making the semester be entirely remote. This semester (spring 2021) has a total of four study days with one in February and March each and two in April.
After the same 20 students that are selected for random testing all tested negative for COVID-19, the university took notice that the study days appear to be working and are minimizing the spread of the virus among students. There were concerns both on the initial decision for study days and the decision to continue them about how this would impact student mental health. Many students raised concerns that working for 13 weeks with no long breaks would contribute to the burnout that many students already feel. In response, the university continued to understaff the Student Health and Wellness Center (SHWC).
Even though the virus is expected to be less of an issue in the upcoming fall semester and future as a whole, a university spokesperson elaborated more on the decision to keep the study days. Some professors continued to teach on the study days, proving their dedication to education and students’ commitment to learning to better the future. As such, a week without classes seemed to be a hindrance to this progress. In addition, most students intend to use a week-long spring break to catch up on their classes, get homework done, or study, but more often than not that fails to be the case. With the study days, students will have no choice but to actually study since they may have class or an exam the very next day; no hindrance to productivity.
Illinois Tech is set to fully reopen all in-person classes for the fall 2021 semester and has already resumed in-person campus tours, despite making the announcement to have this semester’s graduation and commencement ceremony be virtual. As stated in the president’s email, “Thank you for your continued excellent commitment to our university community during this pandemic.”