The University of Richmond is having a light workload week this year instead of the usual spring break to encourage students to remain on campus and not travel. However, some students have expressed frustration with the week, which lasts from March 1 to 5, saying not all faculty are assigning less work than usual.
On October 8, students were notified in an email that they would not have a spring break and that the starting date for the spring semester would be pushed back. UR does not have a spring break this semester because of concern that there would be a COVID-19 outbreak on campus once students returned to campus, UR Faculty Senate president Thad Williamson said.
“It’s a long semester,” Williamson said. “[The Faculty Senate] felt like there needed to be some kind of pause or break to alter the routine a little bit and hopefully keep the stress from rising past a boiling point, especially for students.”
The Faculty Senate decided to designate a light workload week, when professors are supposed to assign less work than usual, Williamson said. Students are still expected to have homework and attend class, but the Faculty Senate requested that professors avoid having major assignments and tests during light workload week, Williamson said.
“Our hope is that people continue to go to class, but maybe have a little bit more time in between [classes] to just relax, take a walk, get some breathing space, get some extra sleep,” Williamson said.
However, what professors decide to do with the light workload week is at their discretion, Williamson said. As a result, light workload week looks different for each student, and some have expressed disappointment that it is not a sufficient alternative to spring break.
“Teachers that already give light work are following it, but teachers that give lots of work normally seem to still be doing so,” first-year Alexandra Overby said. “I think a lot of us have been extremely stressed with how much work we have, and we deserve at least a little break from work since we don’t have spring break.”
First-year Brady Lang echoed Overby’s sentiments. Some of Lang’s professors have not decreased students' work, saying they could not do so without the class falling behind in the material it needs to cover, Lang said.
Despite the faults in the light workload week, Lang still thinks it is helpful.
“It’s definitely a good decision by the administration to have [the week]," Lang said. "It’s better than nothing because some teachers are following it, [although] not all are.”
In addition to the March light workload week, students were given a Tuesday off in February and will have another day off in April; both days are called Well-Being Days. The classes missed on these days will meet in late April for make-up days before exams, according to the spring 2021 academic calendar.
Contact features writer Lauren Oligino at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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