Following the Sept. 23 announcements of Notre Dame and Holy Cross’ plans for a long winter break and late start to the spring semester, the Saint Mary’s community awaited the College’s decision on how it would proceed. Plans to follow the same semester model as the other two institutions of the tri-campus community were released the next day.
After the Nov. 20 end of the fall semester, students will begin a 10-week winter break. The spring semester is set to begin Feb. 3 and end May 19. No midterm break will be given during the period, similar to what occurred this semester.
Sophomore Aranza Sierra said the semester without a fall break has taken its toll on students and she is ready for the upcoming extended break.
“I am really looking forward to this break just because I feel like this semester has really been nonstop,” Sierra said. “I’m ready to not think about school for the upcoming 10-week break.”
Sierra added that she thinks students thought this semester would be doable without a break.
“I think that a lot of us thought that we could make it through the semester without any breaks, but now that we are actually living through the semester and while yes we are so close to the end of the semester, it still seems so far away,” she said. “Especially with professors stacking projects and paper, and all these assignments on top of each other.”
Sierra also addressed concerns for students’ mental state, including her own.
“I think I can speak for a lot of students that I am burnt out and no longer have the capacity to deal with or think about school-related matters,” she said. “It would have liked there to be like a day or two where all the students could have a day with no class and almost a type of mental health day. I know we have the weekend to rest, but weekends are no longer weekends, rather days to catch up on work you couldn’t complete during the week or were too at capacity and burnt out to finish during the week.”
Junior Damariz Olguin echoed the same feeling of needing a long break after the fast-paced semester.
“I will be relaxing and enjoying spending time with family after a packed and stressful semester,” she said.
Olguin also commented on the College’s recent announcement of offering a handful of courses during the winter break to lighten the course load for students in the spring.
“While Saint Mary’s has given students the option of a winter term, the semester has left me burnt out and I don’t think it is the right move for me,” Olguin said.
However, Olguin does have concerns over the long winter break after an at-home end of spring semester and summer.
“Hearing how long our break will be gave me flashbacks to the summer,” Olguin said. “Although I participated in SSLP through ND virtual experience, I found myself doing nothing after it and having large periods of free time.”
As for the spring semester and the way it is set to take place, Olguin said she understands why the College decided to begin so late, but added that another semester without a break will be strenuous.
“I understand the lateness of the start of the semester due to COVID,” she said. “However, another semester without a break will be very rough.”
Sierra said she is a bit worried about another semester without the traditional break and hopes for at least one day off to destress.
“It has been really hard not having a break in between the semester [and] it’s always go-go but we just need a time or day specifically free of school-related tasks to let go of everything,” she said. “I honestly do not mind that the semester is beginning February, just because I feel exhausted and I need as much time as possible to get back to myself because I know this has been a really challenging time not just for me but for everyone. And I’m sure a lot of have lost a little bit of our motivation and ourselves. Having those 10 weeks will ground us a lot more and let us be the people we once were before everything happened.”