In lieu of spring break this year, which was canceled to reduce student travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Temple University canceled classes on Feb. 23 and March 24 to give students a brief chance to take a break from class work, The Temple News reported.
But on the first “Wellness Day,” I was anything but well, and I don’t look forward to spending today catching up on assignments due tomorrow.
Despite my classes being canceled on Feb. 23, most of my professors assigned homework due the next day. Rather than feeling rested, I was extremely stressed the whole day, sitting inside and staring at my computer screen, too anxious to step away from my work.
I know today, the second and final Wellness Day, won’t be relaxing for students who are asked to turn in assignments today or tomorrow.
Temple faculty should be mindful of student burnout at this point in the semester and not assign work for students today or tomorrow. The two Wellness Days were created to help alleviate stress after spring break was canceled, and assigning work on these days is inconsiderate and disrespectful to students who deserve a much-needed mental health day.
Assigning work on Wellness Days does not technically violate the university’s policy, which is that no classes are held on Feb. 23 and March 24.
But not all professors followed this guidance on the first date.
In an anonymous survey conducted in late February, Temple Student Government received 36 reports of professors violating the Feb. 23 Wellness Day, The Temple News reported. TSG released a similar form on March 19 on their Instagram in anticipation of the Wellness Day on March 24.
“It was disappointing to see confirmation that there is a clear disregard for student mental health within some members of Temple’s faculty. Thirty-six reports are 36 too many,” wrote Student Body President Quinn Litsinger, a junior political science major, in an email to The Temple News. “The majority of faculty at Temple are sensational and care deeply about student issues — the professors that violated Wellness Day policies selfishly cast a bad light on a predominantly caring and understanding group.”
In a September 2020 survey from the Journal of Medical Internet Research, 71 percent of college students indicated an increase in stress due to the pandemic. The survey also found 82 percent of students are currently worried about their academic performance.
These two Wellness Days were intended to act as a small reprieve for students struggling to work for fourteen weeks straight, but many students didn’t even get a day to themselves.
Freshman journalism major Aric Kressly and sophomore health professions major Lindsey Romesburg said they both had assignments due on Feb. 23.
“In general, this Wellness Day didn’t prove to be a Wellness Day for me or for any of my friends,” Kressly said. “Most people I talked to did some sort of studying or work during their Wellness Day.”
Romesburg had to complete an assignment that wasn’t unlocked until Feb. 23 in the morning and due that same night.
“It was even more frustrating because when I did do the assignment, it took way longer than the class period takes anyway. We’re only in class for 40 minutes and it took me over an hour and a half to do it,” Romesburg said.
Even with a spring break, students tend to be burnt out by this time in the semester. With the stress of pandemic fatigue and remote learning, students are more likely to feel exhausted between midterms and final exams.
Pandemic fatigue is defined as the feeling of exhaustion caused by the ongoing crisis and ambiguity of when it will end, Psychology Today reported.
“We created these Wellness Days to give students a break and have alerted the deans to remind their faculty that there are no classes on Wellness Days,” wrote Raymond Betzner, a spokesperson for the university, in an email to The Temple News.
Although my classes were canceled today, I’ll still be doing homework and watching the rain fall on another dreary Wellness Day.
“It’s the fact that I know that the same things that happened on the first one are going to happen on this one anyway,” Kressly said. “I don’t really see anything changing.”