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An Ode To The Wellness Day

Now that our first wellness day is upon us, I think it’s safe to admit that a lot of us are feeling…not so great about Penn State’s COVID-19-friendly alternative to spring break.

Of course, there are some super exciting activities that the university has put together for us — yoga and a financial literacy class, to name a few. While I’m sure that there are some Penn Staters who will be faithfully tuning in to those, I also think there are a fair amount of students who will decidedly not be.

Just as a disclaimer before people start coming for me in our Facebook comments, I completely understand that canceling spring break is probably the best thing that Penn State could have done to try to keep students from traveling, and that these wellness days are something that a ton of other colleges around the country are doing, and that there is no perfect solution in these ~unprecedented~ times. Also, as a second-semester senior, I don’t really have that much to do anyway class-wise, so I really don’t have too much to complain about.

However, I do still think that the way Penn State went about these wellness days is pretty dumb. Check out my reasoning below:

Staying Consistent

This isn’t really something that applies to me (shoutout to the English Department because you guys have always been great about not piling on the workload), but something I’ve heard from a lot of students is that their professors aren’t actually honoring the fact that we have a scheduled wellness day.

Whether that’s getting special permission from heads of departments to continue to hold class anyway, adding more work to the syllabus to “account” for the day off, or assigning videos to watch outside of class, it seems as though a number of professors are finding ways to hold class and make sure their students are continuing to get work done.

I just think that if the university is going to present this united front of giving students a certain amount of days off in order to work on their mental health, then there shouldn’t be any exceptions to that rule.

One Day Is Not Enough

I understand that there are three wellness days this semester and that we technically started classes a week later than usual, but I don’t think that one wellness day at a time is enough for students to recuperate on their mental health.

At least for me, by the time that I get to that first week of March each semester, I am completely mentally burned out and desperately in need of some time off. Spring break in general isn’t enough to completely get the ol’ brain back in tip-top shape, but it’s enough to get me moving again, and that’s with just under a week off.

Three random days set over three months is not enough to give students a break. Again, I’m speaking personally, but it takes at least three days for me just to stop feeling like I’m forgetting a deadline or that I should be doing something to the point where I finally allow myself to relax.

This isn’t a perfect solution by any means, but I think that it might have been more beneficial to have two to three days off at a time, twice a semester. That way, students may still be dissuaded from traveling, the same classes aren’t getting canceled multiple times, and students and professors could actually get a substantial break from the stress of school.

We Are…Still Online

I’ve mentioned it a few times, but the purpose of canceling spring break is to keep students from leaving State College (or wherever they are) and potentially spreading the virus further. In theory, keeping classes in session would be a great way to keep students here.

In reality, most of our classes are already completely online anyway. Penn State recently released its plan to phase back to in-person activities this semester, but a majority of in-person learning is probably not going to happen before the end of the school year — though I’m praying I’m wrong.

Basically, with classes mostly online, there’s nothing stopping students from skipping town and logging onto Zoom University from somewhere a little warmer. Maybe people will feel compelled to stay in State College due to the ongoing pandemic, but I’d bet money that there’s a lot of people who won’t.

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About the Author

Katie Moats

Katie Moats is a senior majoring in English, and her goal this year is to get a big girl job. Seriously, though, if you're looking for someone who can write and edit like nobody's business, she's Katelyn Moats on LinkedIn and will literally interview with you tomorrow. You can follow her @k_moats24 on Twitter for stupid content, but if it's something serious, feel free to shoot her an email (preferably in the form of a poem) to [email protected].

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