Remote learning applications increase for non-COVID reasons in the wake of no spring break

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The cancellation of spring break has led to increased student fatigue. Students are requesting temporary remote learning so that they can travel / go on vacation.

Students are increasingly applying to study remotely to visit family and travel, according to the Center for Student Success.

Co-director Thea Brophy said that the majority of the requests are due to the cancellation of spring break, which has resulted in students feeling fatigued and exhausted. 

These are always hard to respond to; we sympathize with students and know that this has been a tough semester for many,” said Brophy. “We also support the university’s decision to remove spring break in order to minimize COVID risk. It’s a difficult balance.”

The COVID Response Team mandates that students who are displaying COVID symptoms, are close contacts of positive cases or have themselves tested positive must be temporarily remote. 

Additionally, some students have applied to be remote for the entirety of the semester because of personal health or visa reasons.

However, the CSS does not approve temporary remote status for students outside of these categories. The provost’s office weekly academic bulletin reminded professors not to provide remote status for students for non-COVID reasons on Feb. 26.

“Remote learning has been a great resource for students who simply cannot be in the classroom,” said Brophy. “The fact that it is available for those situations does mean that it’s tempting to view it as an alternative in other situations…whether that’s waking up late for class or wanting to leave campus for a week.”

Brophy said that she wouldn’t be surprised if students were learning remotely while vacationing. She reminded students to think of the extra work this poses for professors, as well as the increased risk of contracting the virus while traveling. Studying remotely makes it difficult for students to stay engaged, so students who do not have to watch classes on Teams should try to avoid it, Brophy said.

In an email to students, faculty and staff, Vice President for Student Life Sarah Visser said, “Such travel would be potentially detrimental to our work and life together and would defeat the COVID-related purpose of removing a traditional spring break and ending the semester a week early.”

Professors have expressed some frustration to CSS but understand the fatigue their students are feeling.

Brophy hopes that with expanded vaccine access, some restrictions can be lifted, and on-campus life can be less tiring.