Despite the shortened two-day spring break taking place this week, some students reported that they have assignments due on days where no classes will be held.
Penn shortened spring break to two days — March 10 and 11 — in an effort to discourage travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The University later added three engagement days for a total of five days of break throughout the semester. Still, some students are frustrated their workload has not decreased in light of the two days off this week.
College senior Greer Bizzell-Hatcher said her essay for SOCI 001: Introduction to Sociology is due this Wednesday and was assigned one week before the deadline. She said that because of work in SOCI 001 and her other classes, finishing the essay prior to the first day of break was not realistic, requiring her to work over the break.
“I have this whole paper that's due on one of my spring break days,” Bizzell-Hatcher said. “How is that allowed?”
Bizzell-Hatcher said that Penn should have implemented stronger policies surrounding assignments over breaks to ensure that students would be able to take advantage of the shortened spring break this semester and not be required to complete assignments.
“It doesn't feel like [administration] is really taking into account the students’ experience, and I feel like they need more advisory on that," she said. "That would kind of prevent situations like this from happening.”
College junior Kaday Kamara said that her Canvas discussion post for ANTH 104: Sex and Human Nature is still due on Thursday of this week. She added that the post involves answering questions that require completing a full week's worth of readings.
Although there is no class on Thursday, Kamara said her weekly workload is the same, making her feel like there is not actually a break.
“The whole point is to get time off,” Kamara said. “Let's have a break. I feel like since we don't have class Thursday, we should at least get a break from having to engage with the material.”
College sophomore Lucy Alter said that her midterm for LING 001: Introduction to Linguistics will also require her to work over the break days. The midterm, which was distributed last Friday, is due this Friday.
Alter said that though she appreciated that the midterm was not due on either of the days off, an increased workload in her other classes through Tuesday of this week meant she did not have sufficient time to study for the exam and take it before the break. Although it can be taken any time during the week, once opened, the exam is only available for three hours.
Alter said that even though the exam is not due over break, she will almost certainly have to use her break time to both study for and take the exam.
Though she understands the rationale behind shortening the break to discourage travel, she said that she wished this week would have been a full break from school to alleviate the burnout she has felt from her third consecutive semester of online classes.
“I can't necessarily enjoy those two days off because I will have to be studying for an exam,” Alter said.
College first year Murat Direskeneli echoed Alter’s concerns about work being due immediately after the break. Direskeneli said that he has a quiz on Friday in MATH 114: Calculus Part II based on asynchronous lectures assigned this week.
He said that while no lectures are assigned specifically for Wednesday and Thursday, this week had the same amount of videos as any other week despite the break, meaning that he will have to complete work over the break to prepare for the quiz on Friday.
Direskeneli said that while he does not think his situation is extraordinarily difficult, the absence of a week-long break from both assignments and classes has been hard on all students.
Kamara said she hopes professors and TAs will be receptive to students who raised concerns about continuing assignments during the break.
“I would hope professors would be open to listening to students and taking that feedback,” Kamara said. “I guess I would want professors to be more understanding.”