Southeast Missouri State University student publication

The semester with no break: reactions to the spring 2021 semester.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Students following social distancing guidelines at the University Center. On the ground on markers saying where to stand and which way to go.
Photo by Josh Seabaugh

At Southeast, the Spring 2021 semester has been different for everyone, including students and professors. Not only were there mask mandates and blended classes, but this semester also had no spring break. Instead, the university gave students two days off called “reading days” on Feb 23 and March 17. These days off from campus for both students and faculty were aimed at giving them a chance to catch up or have a day to relax.

While Southeast students did have a designated holiday break around Easter, it was more of a slightly longer weekend with students only getting an additional Friday off from classes.

Freshman family and consumer education major Jessica Tuggle started her academic career in the Fall 2020 semester, when the Protect the Nest plan was first put in effect. Tuggle said those reading days off weren’t as fulfilling as a week-long spring break.

“In general, it wasn’t that much of a break,” Tuggle said. “It didn’t give us any time to actually relax, enjoy our time off or get away from the stress of homework and classes. It definitely wasn’t as enjoyable as a week off.”

For students who have been here longer, their classes and experiences were affected by COVID-19 safety guidelines. English education sophomore Matthew Fisk started attending Southeast in Fall 2019, a semester before COVID-19 reached Missouri. Fisk said he believes while Southeast is doing the best they can, it’s harder for students to learn as well compared to before mask mandates.

“Learning has taken a hit because I can only go to class like once or twice a week. It’s hard to focus during Zoom meetings because you have the option to just go and get distracted,” Fisk said.

Students weren’t the only ones affected by this different semester. Fred Jones, professor in the mass media department, shared his thoughts on the importance of time out of classes. Jones said even teachers need time away from class, which could include not grading assignments.

“I know things get busy for students, and they certainly do for professors, as well,” Jones said. “Sometimes, you do need a day to just get away and unwind. I think some professors used it to get caught up on grading, but I think most people used it as a day to unwind. You need that through the course of a semester.”

According to an email sent to students by the Provost Office, classes will return to normal in the Fall 2021 semester. This will include a planned fall break and Thanksgiving break, which will be Oct. 7-8 and Nov. 24-26, respectively. While some Southeast students received vaccines during the spring semester, Southeast will continue to monitor COVID-19 cases in case of an outbreak and adjust accordingly. Southeast continues listening to the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Department for guidance regarding campus safety. To keep up-to-date with the Protect the Nest plan, visit the SEMO website.