This semester has been hard, to say the least. Finding the motivation to go to class or to work or to study during a global pandemic is damaging to students’ mental health. On top of that, we have had no days off to allow for classes to move online after Thanksgiving break.
While wanting to have classes move remote and to discourage students from coming back to campus after traveling for the holiday makes sense, is it worth the damage no breaks are having on students’ mental health?
Honestly, if the whole point of not having three-day weekends is to have fewer students travel and then come back to campus, it’s pretty unsuccessful. This only stops students from far away from going home, if that.
Students who are only an hour — or even five hours away — can easily go home for a two day weekend. And with no sporting events or much else to do besides going out to the bars or other COVID-19 hotspots, why would they stay?
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And if students who are from far away really want to go home, they will. COVID-19 means flights are easier to book because fewer people are flying. So really, all not having three days off is doing is damaging students’ mental health.
In a normal year, we would have at least three days off before Thanksgiving — Labor Day, Native American Day and Veteran’s Day.
While three days might not seem like a lot, that is 72 hours away from the classroom. Those hours can be used to catch up on homework, sleep, socialize, binge Netflix, pick up an extra shift to make some extra money and so much more.
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This year has felt like a constant struggle to catch up on assignments, especially if students have to spend time away from their classes because of quarantine. Whether a student is sick or not while in quarantine, it is nearly impossible to find the motivation to do homework.
While the university didn’t purposely take away three days weekend to destroy students’ mental health, the lack of days off has been extremely damaging.
Not having days off can also lead to increased skipped classes, which is often deemed as a bad thing, when really they are extremely necessary sometimes, especially during a pandemic.
We need to start prioritizing students’ and staff’s mental health, not just this year, but every year. Students shouldn’t have to tell their professors they are physically sick when really they need a mental health day.
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Staying home when physically sick is a common practice, but when it’s a mental illness it is often questioned. This year is hard and without built-in mental health days in the form of three-day weekends, having the courage to admit you need a mental health day should be widely accepted.
2020 has been hard for everyone, and even though it might not feel like it, the end is near. While it will be nice to be done with in-person work after Thanksgiving, making it to Thanksgiving seems impossible without three day weekends.
Next semester, hopefully, three day weekends will make a return because clearly not having them is not an effective way of keeping students from traveling.