Penn State’s Three Spring ‘Wellness Days’ Are Not Enough
Last week, Penn State announced it will add three “wellness days” to its spring semester calendar in the absence of spring break.
The new wellness days will be designated non-instructional days without classes. According to Penn State, they’re meant to give students and professors a brief break without fear of sending them home and quickly bringing them (and potentially the coronavirus) back to campus.
While keeping students on campus to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is a good idea, in theory, replacing a break period with three scattered, spread-out days is an ineffective solution.
2020 has been a trying time for the entire Penn State community. We’ve struggled with off-campus partying and rising case numbers, and a lot of folks didn’t expect to be in State College past September, let alone November.
We came into this semester knowing that a period of remote learning awaited us at the finish line. After a much-needed break at Thanksgiving, we’ll spend only one week taking classes from home before we take online finals.
However, when we come back in January, we can no longer look forward to a break. Instead, we’re faced with 14 weeks of nonstop classes, assignments, and stress.
It’s true that in a typical fall semester, students take 14 weeks of classes straight through. But in the spring semester, the break is placed in the middle of that long haul to break up class time and let students and professors decompress.
By giving us just three days over the span of four months, the cushion is taken away. Sure, it’s one day that students don’t have classes. But what’s to say that they won’t have homework that is assigned to do during a day with no class? What about professors who may not be teaching but need to still grade assignments and answer questions? What makes a “wellness day” different from a weekend or any day without class?
While reinstating spring break isn’t smart, implementing more than three days for the Penn State community to take a breather during these troubling times could do wonders.
Now more than ever, we need periods of time to break up the grind of Zoom University. Sitting on our computers all day is not only exhausting, but it can be very damaging to mental health and wellbeing if left unchecked.
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