Almost everyone has reached their breaking point for the semester. Online classes are exhausting and impossible to keep up with. The work never ends. At this point in the semester, things only get more challenging for students. Finals are almost here, and major deadlines are approaching in most classes. Needless to say, the mental health of the student body is a major concern. We need a break.
In order to limit student travel and contain the spread of COVID-19, NC State created “wellness days” for its students rather than providing extended breaks. There were four scheduled wellness days this semester: Tuesday, Feb. 9; Friday, March 5; Wednesday, March 24 and Thursday, April 15. This means students have only been given four days off for the entirety of the spring semester.
While the University claims these wellness days are meant to improve the mental health of students this semester, these days do little to nothing to help us truly de-stress.
Three out of four of these so-called “wellness days” fall right in the middle of the week. It’s almost impossible for students to relax and take a day off if they know they have to go right back to schoolwork the very next day. To us, these “wellness days” are just another day to sit and do schoolwork; they aren’t truly a day off.
These days off are meant for students to take a well-deserved break, but many professors fail to acknowledge these wellness days. These dates were announced after most professors had already created schedules for their coursework. In many cases, professors are reluctant to shift the schedule of their courses to accommodate these days off. In addition to this, professors continue to assign work due the day after a “wellness day.” This essentially makes the “wellness day” useless as students spend the entirety of their day working on assignments.
In an announcement made on Jan. 20, it was stated that, “During these days, no classes will be held and faculty are asked to abstain from assigning any deadlines or tests on days immediately following Wellness Days.” Regardless of this message, many of my asynchronous professors have assigned work due on a wellness day under the criteria that it is an asynchronous course. According to them, we can schedule and shift asynchronous coursework as we please, so a “wellness day” can occur whenever we choose. This in itself proves these wellness days serve no purpose to our students as many professors and teachers don’t respect them.
Students aren’t asking for a lot. Every week feels like an exhausting and endless seven days of work. There’s no real break in sight for students until the semester is over. This year has been mentally draining for college students. The least our professors and the University can do is respect the integrity of the four mediocre “days off” we receive.
The University claims to care and make efforts to improve the mental health of students, but their actions don’t line up with these claims. Administration must not only hold professors accountable to these so-called “wellness days,” but it must also address the crippling mental toll amongst the student body. The amount of stress and ridiculously hefty workloads we are facing this semester is not normal or OK; this is a major concern amongst students and the University must do something to address it. Students don’t just want a break; we need a break.