This year’s spring break was like none other. Though we are in the midst of a global pandemic much like last year, the circumstances have changed. This year people have learned how to be safer and many have begun receiving the vaccine. Last year the pandemic was new, this year we’ve become well-versed in living in a world with COVID-19.
This time last year, our universities were telling us that we were getting an extended spring break. We would go home, the virus would deal its hand and we would return like nothing ever happened. That, of course, did not happen. We were plunged into a worldwide pandemic that has now lasted over a year.
During this time last year, we certainly did not know that only one year later there would be 125 million COVID-19 cases and 2.75 million COVID-19 related deaths worldwide.
During last year’s spring break, some of us were quarantining while others, unaware of how serious the situation would become, traveled, partied and enjoyed themselves.
This year was different: people were far more aware of the situation and more aware of how we could be safe. Prior to the start of the spring semester, University of Maryland’s President Darryl Pines sent an email on Dec. 8, stating that spring break would proceed as planned. This differed from other universities that decided to cancel spring break to prevent an increased spread of COVID-19.
“This was a most difficult decision,” Pines said in the email. “Maintaining our mental health is equally important as our physical health, and we are putting safety measures in place to allow for a mid-semester recess.”
Pines recognized that in the midst of the pandemic allowing students a spring break so that they could relax, decompress and forget for just a moment the horrible state the world is in, was incredibly important.
This decision meant following spring break, all classes previously in-person would be virtual for two weeks so that students could get tested before they resumed offline. This allowed students to enjoy their spring break while remaining safe.
In 2021, with COVID-19 restrictions slowly but surely lightening, some students could safely enjoy their spring break in places like Florida and Virginia.
Abigail Kagan, an undecided sophomore at the University of Maryland, spent her spring break with a friend in Florida.
“I convinced myself I was going to get coronavirus on this trip… but we got there and it wasn’t that bad,” said Kagan. “we were safe, but I was worried about things outside of my control… like people not wearing masks, being rowdy and so on.”
Kagan was already on her way home when the State of Emergency was declared in Miami, but she says she felt safe while there because she made safe decisions.
“We agreed prior we weren’t going to any indoor places or clubs or anywhere really packed… we kind of just agreed beforehand to take it easy and not push coronavirus,” said Kagan.
Similarly, senior government and politics major Joshua Shake also spent his spring break at the beach, but in Virginia.
“I went to Virginia Beach… it was an awesome time especially getting to see my friends after a whole year,” said Shake. “I got tested. We were wearing masks when we went out since we all had negative [covid] tests and a few of us are vaccinated.”
Though it is safe to assume that not everyone made good decisions during their spring breaks, some students did, and for those who were not, the university had policies in place to prevent the spread.
In an email to the University of Maryland on-campus community on March 17, the Department of Resident Life said, “Residence Hall Card Swipe Access will reactivate after you attest to your PCR-based COVID-19 Test... You may not access your space until you have attested to your result… Additionally, a post-arrival test is required as soon as possible after returning from spring break.”
This year’s spring break was well deserved. Students needed and enjoyed their break from the crazy life of Zoom university. One can only hope that next year’s spring break will be even better—maybe one without the need for masks—but until then, it is important to remain safe and not let the pandemic get you down.