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“In light of COVID, it’s the appropriate thing to do”: Students and faculty prepare for ‘wellness days’

Miami University students and faculty must adjust to a different semester format this spring, as the traditional week-long spring break has been replaced with a series of “wellness days.”

These wellness days occur roughly once a month and were implemented to prevent students from traveling to many different locations and bringing COVID-19 back to Oxford. Professors are not allowed to hold classes or assign work on these days.

Junior political science and philosophy major Brendan Myers said he doesn’t mind the wellness days but dislikes the fact that they’re almost all placed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays.

“I think it would be better if they put the wellness days on a Friday or Monday to make a long weekend,” Myers said, “but it is what it is.”

Junior bioengineering major Greta Schwartz agreed that the placement of the days is one of her biggest gripes with the wellness days.

“I hate [the wellness days],” Schwartz said. “I think it’d be better if they were on Fridays so it gives us more of a weekend, but since they aren’t, I don’t think they’re very helpful.”

Schwartz also worries her professors may assign work on wellness days, and said she’d most likely end up using the days to catch up on work rather than doing anything fun or relaxing.

Sophomore social work major Taylin Kocinski also expressed worry that her professors may use wellness days as an excuse to assign more work.

“I feel like, if there’s a due date [on a wellness day], they’re going to be like, ‘Well, it was on the schedule ahead of time, so I’m not going to change it,’” Kocinski said.

Despite students’ fears, professors are aware they aren’t supposed to give their students work on those days. Libby Gielau, visiting assistant professor of Spanish, said it wasn’t difficult for her to schedule her classes around the wellness days. 

“I think the trick is just giving them a day off when those days hit on the calendar, and it ends up being the same amount of curriculum as if you had a spring break,” Gielau said, “so, no, it really wasn't difficult.”

Matt Arbuckle, visiting assistant professor of political science, also said it was relatively easy to plan around the days off. He did have to alter the due dates of some end-of-semester projects, though, since the usual last day of class, May 7, is a wellness day.

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“Usually, I have my assignments due on the last day [of class], so I had to work that out,” Arbuckle said. “For the first time, I have a couple of my papers due on exam day.”

Unlike many students, Gielau said she actually prefers the wellness days over a spring break.

“Honestly, I think it makes more sense to have weeks with lighter workloads as opposed to having a ton of work and then getting this one week off where you’re really kind of divorced from your school work entirely,” Gielau said. “I think the wellness days kind of keep people in focus, while giving them some time to catch up and regroup.”

History professor Sheldon Anderson, on the other hand, said he feels the wellness days are relatively pointless since students won’t be able to relax much with a single day off in the middle of the week.

“I don’t quite get it,” Anderson said. “To me, it would make more sense to cut a week off [at the end of the semester]. Let's get through this, get home and get well.”

Arbuckle also said he thinks wellness days are a good approach — at least, for this current semester.

“I’m fine with the wellness days,” Arbuckle said. “It makes sense to do it that way and not let the students dissipate into potentially risky situations and then come back. In light of COVID, it’s the appropriate thing to do.”