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Students discuss plans for first set of University wellness days

DTH Photo Illustration. With UNC's first wellness days coming up on Feb. 15 and 16, students have expressed that this break will not be as relaxing as intended. Many will spend the days focused on studying for upcoming exams rather than self-care as intended by the university.

Students' first two of five total wellness days this spring semester have arrived, set for Monday and Tuesday.

The days off from school are designed to give students some semblance of a traditional spring break — without the increased risk of travel that comes with it. Students will have both Monday and Tuesday off and are encouraged to use the time to practice self-care instead of worrying about classes. 

To promote an opportunity for students to rest and recharge, the University has also advised faculty members not to assign extensive work, such as exams and quizzes, immediately following the break. 

Lorelai Sykes, a first-year media and journalism student at UNC, plans to spend her upcoming wellness days catching up on sleep, studying for her classes and possibly taking some time to go outside. Even though the wellness days offer an opportunity for Sykes to finally take a break from her busy virtual class schedule, she feels it is short-lived.

“I know people talk about Zoom fatigue, but I don’t think they emphasize how tiring it really is, doing this amount of work,” Sykes said. “I’m glad to see there’s more wellness days this semester than there were last semester – but I feel like it’s putting a Band-Aid on a broken bone.”

But, for Luke Hines, a UNC sophomore studying economics, using the wellness days to rest and recharge isn’t an option. Hines said he will instead spend his time studying in his apartment for exams scheduled shortly after the wellness break.

“I have two back-to-back exams on Friday, so I don’t really get an extra relax day,” Hines said. “I have to study for those on top of still having homework assignments due. You can’t get into relaxing mode when you’re so amped up from school.”

Although Hines said he would prefer being able to spend the wellness days taking a break from course work, he understands why professors are in a tough spot when it comes to scheduling exams.

“I understand the teachers, because of course it hurts their lesson plan,” Hines said. “Being that there’s three different times that we have days off, it’s kind of hard to actually have any rhythm in the lessons. Then also at the same time, I actually want the time off. It stinks, but I understand both sides.”

Sykes said she feels like the spread-out nature of the wellness days makes it a safer option over a traditional five-day break. 

“The wellness days are less opportunity for students to travel and interact with people outside of the campus community,” Sykes said.

In a video statement, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz reminded students that travel increases the risk of transmitting COVID-19 to themselves and the UNC community. 

Although students are discouraged from traveling during the wellness break, there is no consequence for students who choose to, UNC Media Relations said in an email.

“We are asking our students to keep the health and safety of the campus and the entire community at the forefront of their decision-making around the Wellness Days,” UNC Media Relations said in an email. “Additionally, the COVID-19 Community Standards apply on and off campus.”

But if students do decide to travel, the Carolina Together Testing Program Team asks students who travel to take COVID-19 several tests — one test when they return to campus, and another test in the following week. 

Even if the reentry test is negative, the University is recommending for traveling students to limit interactions upon return. 

The University will have two more sets of wellness days in the upcoming months of the spring semester. There will be two wellness days on March 11-12, and one wellness day on April 5, following the University holiday on April 2.

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