A Change of Plans: How Winter Break Arrangements Are Changed Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic


Becky Chen

During the Winter Break of December 2019, before the Coronavirus pandemic radically altered holiday celebrations, Becky Chen ’21 attended a gingerbread house making competition with her friends at the Chinese American Planning Council in Queens.

The current global Coronavirus pandemic has had an impact upon nearly every aspect of what we may have expected from 2020, including our plans for Winter Break. Before COVID-19, traveling during the break was commonplace, in order to make the most out of the few precious weeks that parents and students alike would have off from school and work responsibilities. This is true, as well, for the Bronx Science community. With many of us normally taking advantage of the Winter Break to take a well-deserved rest, things will not look the same in 2020. 

Sylvia Chan ’24, who likes to travel for fun, had planned to go to Pennsylvania to look at ice sculptures. Kalina Stoyanova ’22, Ulises Ponce ’23, Iffath Liaquat ’24, and Avery Look ’21 were planning to visit family. However, all of these students’ plans are now either canceled or revised due to concerns over transmission of COVID-19.

“My family and I usually go skiing or travel somewhere – last year we were supposed to go to Zermatt, Switzerland for Spring Break, but that got canceled,” said Stoyanova. “We also try to travel to Bulgaria to spend Christmas with family, but that’s not safe or possible this year.” Now she can only stay at home in the city. This is the same for Ponce. Her family had been looking forward to visiting family in Mexico. “We had been planning to go to Mexico to visit family over the Winter Break, since I had intended to go to summer school this year and wouldn’t be able to visit family then. Now, it will be another year or two before I can visit my family again.” Like Stoyanova, Ponce will now stay in the city. “I’m going to have a small dinner with my immediate family on Christmas but otherwise, not much in terms of get-togethers. Hopefully, I’ll be able to see friends outside with social distancing restrictions in place, while wearing a mask, but cases of COVID-19 are rising again, so I might not be able to.”

Unfortunately, many travel plans are now impossible or dangerous to carry out, given the trajectory of the Coronavirus pandemic and rising case rates of COVID-19. According to the CDC, before anyone can travel, they need to ask themselves some questions. One of the questions is “Are you, someone in your household, or someone you will be visiting at increased risk for getting very sick from COVID-19?” Of course, if someone does decide to travel, it is important to follow the CDC guidelines. Such guidelines include wearing masks, avoiding close contact by staying at least 6 feet apart, washing your hands often with soap for 20 seconds, avoiding anyone who is sick, avoiding touching your face mask, eyes, nose, and mouth, and doing any congregating outside.  It is especially important during the current pandemic for everyone to be safe and to not put anyone else at risk. 

That is why most Bronx Science students will now stay at home with their immediate family, where it is the safest for them to be. This is what senior Becky Chen ’21 will be doing. Instead of meeting up with friends in an after school program, she will now stay at home instead. Chen said that she will “most likely be finishing up my college supplements. My dad and I have been into hiking recently, so if the weather is good, we might do a winter hike together.” 

During the December 2020 Winter Break, there are many fun activities that can be done at home with your family. You can also spend some self-care time on yourself. After all, it is time for a mental and physical break. At the end of the day, though, although our original Winter Break plans pre-COVID may be radically altered by the Coronavirus pandemic, our holiday spirits will remain the same. 

The CDC advises that if you must travel, ask yourself some questions first such as “Are you, someone in your household, or someone you will be visiting at increased risk for getting very sick from COVID-19?”