Students desire amended Spring Break

Solutions to the administration’s cancellation of Spring Break must be realized

Ansley McNeel, Staff Columnist

As the weeks of March fly by, students are keenly aware that a break in the academic calendar is greatly needed. Although Wake Forest has instituted two “mental health days” into our schedules, this is not sufficient care for our mental and academic health needs. Two days off in the middle of the school week is not nearly equivalent to the nine-day break that students normally receive this time of year. This fact becomes especially apparent when these days off are not even coupled together or placed at the beginning or end of an academic week. For these reasons, Wake Forest’s mental health days are a failure in the administration’s attempts to provide some mental and academic aid to students who may be experiencing burnout.

I can see many other solutions as viable to benefit students’ mental and academic health. First, in order to simulate a less intensive academic cycle, Wake Forest could have instituted a “light week” where professors are not allowed to test, quiz or assign homework to students. This week could refresh student’s learning capacities while keeping them on campus. A measure such as this would allow adequate time to do something more conducive to their well-being than completing homework assignments and studying after classes have concluded.

An additional solution could have been that halfway through the semester, the Monday, Tuesday and Friday classes of one week could have been canceled. And in the following week, Tuesday and Thursday classes could have been canceled. Again, this solution would allow for students to have a relatively relaxed schedule compared to the arduous demands of a regular week. This solution would also keep students on campus because they would still have their regular work-studies, jobs, or internship responsibilities.

Additionally, if Wake Forest felt that they could track our student ID usage, then they could actually give us the whole week off of classes as if this were a regular year. To keep us accountable for staying on campus and not traveling recklessly during a pandemic, administrators could use location-based service check-ins to track whether students are on campus or not. Wake Forest actually already has the infrastructure available to do just this — they use a similar system to track whether or not a student is actually in the stadium when they check into Wake Forest athletics on the Screamin’ Deacons Rewards app. This system is so accurate that even a student driving by the stadium will not be counted as attending.

In the spirit of cooperation with the Wake Forest administration, I also see an opportunity to build on the “Wellness Days” idea. I believe that the two mental health days would have been more significant if they had occurred on two successive days. I understand that administrators wanted to avoid giving us a Monday or Friday off to prevent travel, but it would have been a better break if they had even given us a Tuesday and Wednesday off or a Wednesday and Thursday off in the middle of the week, as opposed to days off at the end of the week.

For example, on my Tuesday “Wellness Day” I had multiple assignments due. I spent almost my entire “day off” working on homework that was due that day or the next day. My friends shared similar disappointments. They still had homework due the day after our break, so unless they worked ahead on Monday and finished all work due that Wednesday, the Tuesday off did not really give them a break at all. In this way, scheduling these successive mental wellness days would be a far more viable option. 

With all of these possible solutions in mind, it is very clear to me that Wake Forest failed miserably in their attempt to give us some semblance of a Spring Break in our schedules this semester. In the context of the pandemic, mental health issues and academic burnout on campus are affecting people now more than ever before. Wake Forest could have implemented any one of the above strategies for a more sincere attempt at giving students the rest that they need to perform successfully and remain mentally strong during this spring semester.