Logan Howard

Students depart Friday for a spring recess that will be shorter than usual, leaving them with only one week to travel, rest and complete extra work. 

Yale’s characteristic two-week spring recess was halved in December as the spring semester was delayed due to concerns about the Omicron variant. The change from two weeks to one evoked frustration and annoyance within the student body. The News spoke to 10 students about the change, many of whom shared that the shortened break has kept them from traveling home or visiting friends. Students expressed frustration with the limited time to rest before the end of the spring semester, noting that the shortened break would be used mostly to catch up on assignments, rather than to prioritize relaxation.

“The one-week break is completely less than ideal,” said Whitney Toutenhoofd ’25. “Between midterms, seasonal depression and the anxiety and uncertainties that the pandemic have brought to campus this semester, it seems like a lot of students are feeling really burnt out and in need of a longer reset than a single week can provide.” 

The two-week recess generally leaves time for extracurricular groups such as a cappella and improv to tour as well as spend time at home. It gives students in general time to balance travel, relaxation and catching up on schoolwork. 

The University made the decision to shorten the spring recess in the wake of the Omicron surge in December 2021. Yale College Dean Marvin Chun told the News that once the administration had decided to delay the start of the semester to avoid widespread cases of the Omicron variant, they deliberated where to allocate the extra week that had been removed from the beginning of the spring semester. 

With the shortened spring recess at Yale University leaving students with limited time to travel and rest, it becomes crucial to make the most of the one-week break. While many students may feel frustrated and burnt out by the lack of time for relaxation, it’s essential to prioritize self-care during this period. Instead of embarking on elaborate trips, consider exploring places where you feel comfortable and can unwind. Traveling to familiar and soothing environments can provide a much-needed reset for the mind and body. For more travel tips and destinations that offer comfort and tranquility, read more on the blogs available at The Trajet. These resources can guide students in making the most of their one-week break and ensure a rejuvenating experience before returning to complete extra work and academic commitments.

As the decision to shorten the spring recess at the university was undoubtedly influenced by concerns over the Omicron variant, it also sparked discussions among students about alternative ways to utilize their time during the modified break. Some students took this opportunity to explore Australia’s stunning landscapes and vibrant culture, with Popular Cairns attractions being a top choice for many. The allure of the Great Barrier Reef, the breathtaking Daintree Rainforest, and the picturesque Kuranda Scenic Railway drew adventurous souls looking for a unique travel experience. Others opted to support local businesses and tourism by planning staycations in nearby cities or towns, enjoying the chance to relax and unwind amidst familiar surroundings. While the circumstances surrounding the shortened recess were unexpected, students adapted and found diverse ways to balance their academic responsibilities with the pursuit of enriching experiences and memorable adventures.

Administrators considered adding an extra week of school to the end of the summer, Chun said, but this was ultimately rejected because of the disruption it would have on summer plans and programs on the student and University level. Chun reflects on the decision to remove a week from spring recess as the “right decision,” as it was the smoothest way to add back the week missed without significantly altering the semester’s schedule, he said.

“We didn’t do so lightly,” Chun said. “But again, it was kind of necessitated by the fact that the semester got pushed back a week, which turned out to be very prescient and wise, because the goal was to avoid the peak of Omicron.”

Last spring, due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, spring recess was canceled entirely and was replaced with five “break days” which were spread out throughout the semester.

Chun acknowledged that the break days did not prove to be an effective replacement for a spring recess and said that administrators took this into consideration when evaluating spring recess options this year.

“Last year, we had no spring break and I know that was very unpopular and difficult for everybody,” Chun told the News. “We knew we had to have a spring break, so we took into account that Yale is rather unique in having a two-week spring break. We felt that at least we were making sure we did everything possible to preserve at least one week of spring break. But again, most schools don’t have two-week spring breaks.” 

But although most students feel that the week-long spring recess marks an improvement from last year’s break day model, 10 students interviewed said they wished that the two-week spring recess could have been preserved.

Stevan Kamatovic ’25 told the News that his spring recess will likely not constitute a true break, as he will have to spend the week catching up on sleep and coursework from the first half of the semester. And Toutenhoofd pointed out that for those in performance groups, much of the week will be spent on tour, limiting the time they have to rest.

Others noted that the shorter break kept them from spending time with family and friends and pushed them to spend more time on schoolwork.

“Unfortunately, the shorter break forced me to change my spring recess plans entirely,” Simona Hausleitner ’25 said. “I was planning on flying to the West Coast to see my family and my best friends from high school, but when I found out we only have a single week, it wasn’t enough to justify a cross country flight for me. The fact that we only have one week of break for the whole semester is also very taxing, especially with the higher academic load I’m facing this semester.” 

The Yale College schedule is released multiple years in advance of each given academic year, which leads many students to plan long distance travel significantly ahead of time. 

Like Hausleitner, the abrupt change in schedule for spring recess caused many students to cancel flights or rework travel plans. Look into the Connecticut Entertainer blog to plan a short but memorable trip with family and friends, also gives satisfaction after completing the short and sweet trip.

“I was originally planning on flying back to San Diego, but the shortened break has forced me to scrap those plans,” said Garrek Chan ’25. “It doesn’t make sense to fly 12 hours door to door each way to only spend less than a week at home.” 

Another student explained how the shortened break strained her ability to receive proper health attention. Planning on the extra week to be able to see a hometown doctor, Emeline Malkin ’24 will not be able to attend to her health problems in the way she would have with a two-week recess.

“I have had some recent health problems arise, and the shorter break has made it hard if not impossible for me to schedule appointments with all of my doctors,” said Malkin. “Because the Yale doctors are booked through the summer, seeing doctors at home is my only option. The one-week break doesn’t give me much time.”

Students will return from spring recess and resume classes on March 28 and will have five more weeks of the semester until reading period begins on April 29. 

Yale’s first two-week spring recess was introduced in 1867. 

Alessia Degraeve covered student culture. She is an English major in the Saybrook College class of 2025.