Q&A: Holidays, Breaks and Time Off
Answer: This is an interesting question. Time-off depends on the circumstances, the school's policies, and the length of the classes offered. Different schools/programs may vary in length. Online classes may range anywhere from 4 four to 20 weeks per course. Some schools start a new class weekly and others start classes by "blocks" or "modules". Blocks and/or modules means new classes begin on a rotation. For example, every 4 four weeks or 6 six weeks, etc. Usually, the length of the classes and how quickly new classes are offered, determine the break schedule, if applicable.
Some schools observe holidays by allowing a break and some may only observe a day. Many (not all) schools observe Christmas. The way in which schools observe this holiday may vary. Some schools develop their schedules around the holidays so the course blocks/modules end before and begin after. For example, if Christmas falls on a Tuesday, your current class may end the Sunday before and the next block/module may begin the following week instead of the following day.
Some schools have classes in session during holidays and they may actually take an online break. Let's say you are in a 6-week course and only in week four around Christmas. Some schools take a 2-week break during the course. Instructors and students are encouraged not to log into their classrooms during this time and truly take a rest. After the holiday, class resumes. This usually means extending the course for an additional 2 weeks after the break.
Other than holidays, most online schools do not observe any other scheduled time off (i.e. spring and fall break, etc.). If a student has an emergency (i.e. medical, family, natural disaster, etc.), the school may offer an approved or official time-off. This is an allotted time away from class, approved by the school, without penalty and usually reserved for emergencies only. Depending on the circumstances, students may be required to submit proof of the need for time off such as medical documentation, etc.
If students need a break from school, that is not an emergency, they should consult their academic advisor and/or financial aid counselor, if applicable. As a student, always consult the school before taking time off because it may affect the class rotation, financial aid and/or graduation. If classes that you need to graduate are only offered during specific times, you may have to wait another quarter or semester before the class is offered again. If this is the case, you may opt not to take the break so you can complete your classes/graduate as scheduled.