By Alison Vinick | March 9, 2021
The University at Albany has canceled the entirety of its spring break to make way for a shortened semester in an effort to reduce travel related COVID-19 transmission, replacing it with two non-consecutive days in which class would be suspended. The first of the two “wellness” days was on Wednesday, March 3.
We, as students, are not “well.” Two days off from class is not going to reverse the damage the pandemic and an oversized course load has done to us. It isn’t going to reverse the societal issues that are plaguing our minds on a day-to-day basis.
According to Psychology Today, “The National College Health Assessment indicates that around one in four students suffers from a diagnosable mental illness, while a much greater proportion report feeling overwhelmed.” A singular day of programming aimed to target mental health is not enough to heal the stress that comes with a condensed semester as well as the Zoom fatigue many students are facing from almost a year of online learning.
10 weeks of class with no break, while online and in many cases at home, is not the proper work environment for college students. According to an article written by Alexia Gaffney, MD, “A recent survey found that 80% of students have experienced some negative impact to their mental health due to the pandemic. 20% say their mental health has significantly worsened”.
One “day off” is not fostering a comforting environment in which students are able to thrive. If anything, it is making matters worse.
Students have reported having to attend “optional” Zoom presentations on their day off in order to stay on track, and with assignments due the following day, many students found themselves working on homework or exams rather than taking a day to prioritize their mental health.
The University at Albany administration needs to do better. Our bi-weekly emails that are congratulating us on our “resilience” through such a hard time is not helping, and neither is “Wellness Wednesday.”
While spring break can be considered a danger in regards to the pandemic, there are preventative measures that could have been taken in order to ensure the safety of students, all while allowing time for them to fully decompress.
Many people fail to realize that while students are experiencing the pandemic in many of the same ways as adults, we are also experiencing grief. We are grieving the loss of some of the most important years in our lives. In many aspects, we are missing our transition into adulthood and are being thrown into a world of unknown.