As the week of March 15 approaches, University of Maryland undergraduate students continue to arrange their plans for their week-long spring break. Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, some students plan to stay in Maryland while others plan to travel in a safe manner.
In the past, a stereotypical spring break constituted a trip to a beach and a thousand pictures for Instagram. Reflecting on their memories, students enjoyed the slight break before the final push of the semester.
Despite the university’s strict travel guidelines — especially in terms of COVID testing — some students still plan on traveling this year. Sophomore biology major Madelyn Grant plans on visiting Fort Myers, Florida with a small group of friends.
Rather than flying and risking possible exposure to COVID-19, Grant said she and her friends plan on driving. The group plans to social distance from others on the beach, wear masks and make dinners at the house to avoid eating out.
Grant noted that she looks forward to a small break from school and an escape to warmer weather.
“I love the beach, so I am especially looking forward to having time in the sun to relax and get tan,” Grant said.
Senior hearing and speech sciences major Bobbi Sherman also plans on traveling to Florida to visit family. However, Sherman noted that she would not be traveling if it was not essential.
“In general, I think elective travel at this time is pretty reckless. One of my siblings caught COVID in an airport around Christmas time, and it really changed my perspective,” Sherman said.
While traveling, Sherman plans to wear double masks and a face shield, sanitize her hands, avoid eating and drinking in the airport if possible and find an empty row on the plane.
While some students plan to travel, others plan to stay back in Maryland. Junior criminology and criminal justice major Richie Williams plans to spend time in his off-campus apartment as well as with his immediate family in Maryland.
“It is going to be such a relief to get a break from class, and a lot of my friends feel the same,” Williams said. “This semester has been stressful for the lot of us, so just taking a small day trip or getting lunch with a friend or two will be a good way to kind of get away from the stress that this semester has brought.”
Freshman criminology and criminal justice and psychology major Melissa Bitting has never experienced a college spring break. While in high school, Bitting’s family vacationed in Florida or took cruises.
Given the current circumstances, Bitting plans to spend time with her immediate family in Maryland and a few friends that chose to stay home for the semester. Bitting noted that she is excited to spend time with her family, friends and dogs.
“More than that, I’m excited to have a break from online school because Zoom fatigue is hitting me pretty hard,” Bitting said.
Regardless of their plans, students look forward to the time off and are happy with University of Maryland President Darryll Pines’ decision to keep spring break. After speculation that the break may be canceled to try and mitigate the spread of the virus, Pines announced that spring break would proceed as planned in a campus-wide email on Feb. 27. Pines also expressed hopes that time off would provide the community with a mental health break.
“I think almost all of us need a break for our well-being, and judging based on student reactions at the universities who decided to cancel spring break and give ‘wellness days’ instead, that decision does not seem to be cutting it,” Bitting said.