Give Students a Mental Health Break for Winter 2021

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The academic plan, as of now, is to have 15 straight weeks of classes taken completely, or almost completely, online. Zoom is an incredibly stressful learning environment, added with the already existing stress of typical college courses. Online learning does not provide the same structure as in-person learning and leaves students feeling overwhelmed and stressed, especially when they are quarantined from clubs and their friends. Perhaps this is a partial reason for the pre-Covid limitations on the number of online learning hours a student could take in one semester; other than the simple fact that online learning does not equate to the learning experience of in-person connections with professors and peers.


This stressful environment causes increased anxiety, especially in students already struggling with their mental health prior to Covid and the quarantine. Frankly speaking, one of the worst things for people with depression is to put them in their rooms where they have no excuse to leave because everything in their lives can take place at a desk. I understand that classes are being put online for the physical safety of our students, but I ask the university to please also consider our mental safety. 

 

While I do not fully support the early decision to already consider putting Winter 2021 classes online, I can understand it. The university is trying to do what it feels best in this uncertain and stressful time. However, I cannot support the decision to take away spring break without substitution for some sort of break during the Winter semester. At the very least, I ask the university to consider an extended weekend in place of the full week that Spring Break normally consists of or a few extended weekends scattered throughout the semester. Another possibility is to still have a full week off and then have a two-week transition period of online classes so that students can quarantine before returning to campus from their vacations.


We need a break from learning if we are going to be successful students. 15 weeks of school with no breaks already sounds difficult, but the thought of working through those 15 weeks not stopping; not being able to hang out with friends in a normal environment; and not being able to participate in normal university functions such as clubs and on-campus events is unbearable.