Spring Break 2021: What Are Schools Doing and How Does It Impact Teachers?

Spring Break 2021: What Are Schools Doing and How Does It Impact Teachers?

In pre-COVID times, the countdown to spring break was an excited count down to beachy days, sunny weather, and a break from everything educational. But the pandemic, like everything else, has put a damper on these plans, even as numbers across the country improve and people turn their hopes towards herd immunity through vaccines. Spring break 2021 looks different depending on location, grade level, and how much COVID-19 closures and quarantines impacted the schedule throughout the school year. Here’s a look at spring break changes around the country.

Some teachers are met with an even longer waiting game as spring breaks get postponed or even canceled.

One of the toughest decisions for some districts is postponing spring break altogether until cases are even more under control, to avoid people traveling and bringing the virus back to school. In one Facebook post, an Ontario teacher said her break was postponed until April. Another says their school isn’t even taking a break at all due to the late start to the school year, and that they will be lucky to get a day off. She says they probably won’t have any days off until school ends in June. “I’m dragging here,” she comments.

Colleges are taking a stand against spring break travel, with NPR reporting 60% having already canceled spring break. But, that doesn’t mean students aren’t traveling still and potentially bringing COVID back with them. The University of California, Davis, offered a grant to students for $75 to have a staycation, to incentivize not engaging in irresponsible traveling off-campus.

If you were planning to travel, you may have to quarantine when you return at the expense of your own sick days.

Some teachers are facing an impossible decision if they were planning to travel over break, as some districts are requiring students and staff who have left to quarantine for up to two weeks upon their return. This presents an ethical dilemma for some teachers, who would have to use their sick days during quarantine if they aren’t able to teach remotely from home. This plan, while potentially best for safety concerns as some families will undoubtedly travel either way, also causes curriculum issues when it comes to getting through material by the end of the year. If many students are missing, potentially during state testing season, due to the quarantine restrictions, there could be a ripple effect of other issues.

While teachers may feel ready to travel after being vaccinated, they should still be aware of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for vaccinated individuals, which state that Americans should still delay domestic and international travel, and if they must travel, to follow additional recommendations.

Some districts are opting to close the week after break to mitigate a potential surge in cases.

Similar to many colleges’ decision to close between Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays in 2020, some districts are opting to close the week after break to mitigate a potential surge in cases. The superintendent of a N.J. district reported to Education Week that teachers have already made plans for over break and “expressed a desire that they really wanted to visit with family members that they may not have seen over the past year.” In these cases, the districts are honoring teachers’ prescheduled plans and closing the week following break. Some other districts that aren’t closing are going to remote learning instead.

For many teachers who still get time off, this break will be about catching up on the never-ending workload.

The pandemic year has taken a major toll on teachers’ mental health, with unprecedented numbers of teachers considering leaving the profession completely. But still, many teachers will spend their spring “breaks” catching up on lesson planning, grading, and other professional responsibilities that fell by the wayside as they tried to stay afloat through virtual, hybrid, or other learning models. While this isn’t really a break at all, teachers still welcome the chance to catch up on things on their own schedules. However, it begs the question – do we all need a few professional days to catch up on work, in addition to spring break? We vote yes.

Regardless of your spring break situation, keep those boundaries in mind.

If you have any time off at all, or can even take a few personal days to take a break, do so for your own mental health. Teachers everywhere know that long haul from January to May can feel like an eternity, and not allowing some space to breathe in some of the fresh spring air without the weight of grading in the back of your mind is essential. Try to make some room in your schedule to leave school at school, even if everything doesn’t get done, to take a walk outside or do something for you.

What does spring break 2021 look like at your school? Come join us in the Empowered Teachers community!


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Alexandra Frost

Alexandra Frost is a freelance journalist and high school publications teacher in Cincinnati, OH. She's worked with other publications such as Glamour, Women's Health, Reader's Digest, and more. She has three young sons under age four and has been teaching high school for ten years. She encourages her students to develop communication skills, independence, and a passion for writing in their authentic writers' voices. To connect or read more of her work please her website or follow her on social media: Twitter Instagram Linked In.

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