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Students walk by UGA's Miller Learning Center on the school's first day of class, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Taylor Gerlach; @taylormckenzie_photo)

Since 2019, the University of Georgia condensed the Thanksgiving holiday break to only three days, as opposed to a full week, in order to start the fall semester later. This decision has been controversial with students, who have cited concerns about the shortened break causing difficulties and stress.

Students have said the shorter break is harmful to mental health and defeats the purpose of an educational break. Other students are concerned about traveling a long ways home to see their families with only a few days of break.

Although last year students did not have a full week off for the Thanksgiving holiday, online classes because of the pandemic allowed students more freedom to travel home for the holiday. However, with all in-person classes this semester, students are forced to either skip class to travel home or travel home for only a short period of time.

The Red & Black spoke with UGA students to get their opinions on the shortened holiday break.

Out of state, out of luck

Lauren Patterson, a second-year biological sciences major from Forsyth, said the shortened break prevents out-of-state students from going home to see their families, which is further complicated by the pandemic.

“People haven't been home all semester and now they get two days basically with their family,” Patterson said.

Patterson also commented on how professors tend to give more work over Thanksgiving break because it is shorter in comparison to the week-long spring break.

“I know a lot of people are stressed out and need a break, and we just don't get it,” Patterson said.

Abigail Nelson, a third-year linguistics major from Chesapeake, Virginia, echoed Patterson’s sentiment.

Nelson said in order to drive home, she needs an extra two days to account for driving each way. The shortened Thanksgiving break does not allow her adequate time to drive home and spend time with her family without missing class.

“It is not worth me driving home for less than a week because it takes so long,” Nelson said.

Nelson questioned the effectiveness of the shortened break allowing students to successfully finish the semester without sufficient time to destress.

“We already have one of the longest academic school years in the country, so having a full week off makes a difference in your stamina for the rest of the semester,” Nelson said.

Burnout blues

Myles Jones, a fifth-year social studies education major from Duluth, cited concerns about burnout with the short break.

“I think [only having a three-day break] is unreasonable and not fair at all to the students or faculty,” Jones said. “We haven't had a real break up to this point. Everyone is so burnt out.”

Reflecting on his freshman year before the change was made to the Thanksgiving holiday, Jones said the difference between a three-day break and full week is huge for students preparing for finals.

“I can definitely see the impact it’s had on students’ physical and mental health, especially right before finals season” Jones said.

Jones said even with the one-day fall break earlier in the semester, UGA can and should incorporate a full-week Thanksgiving break.