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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: Bring back wellness days

Junior Samantha Beecham studies outside of Wilson Library in the shade. While studying outside is relaxing, some need wellness days in order to maintain their mental health.

One of the best practices that came from our remote learning era was the implementation of wellness days. The five wellness days that were spread throughout the semester were set in place of a traditional spring holiday to give students a break from classes.

Although we abandoned remote learning as a primary form of instruction, we should’ve kept wellness days for plenty of reasons — starting with the fact that we’re tired and need them now more than ever.

In-person classes are draining and the transition has not been easy

Every time I check in with peers and ask them how they are, their responses are usually the same — “I am exhausted.” 

And their reasoning is almost always the transition from remote to in-person classwork.

The switch back to in-person classes was quite abrupt, and the transition has been difficult for many students — some of whom conditioned themselves to wake up minutes before class started and sign in to Zoom for classes from their beds.

Students now have to unlearn those old habits and muster up the energy to physically go to class, as if they hadn’t just spent three semesters learning from their beds.

The fast-paced nature of in-person instruction has also been difficult to readjust to. It feels like a non-stop marathon to stay ahead, but this race doesn’t grant any pit stops.

COVID-19 anxiety still persists

As if trying to keep up with the demands of in-person instruction wasn’t exhausting enough, many are still dealing with COVID-19 anxiety.

Just because some institutions like this one have not been as strict with COVID-19 restrictions this school year doesn’t mean we are not still living in a pandemic and dealing with the stress that comes with it. This includes the fear of being infected, deaths and sicknesses in the family and financial stressors in the current economic climate.

Grace in the form of wellness days would certainly make these things more manageable.

When used properly, wellness days gave students a chance to reset

Unfortunately, some professors scheduled projects, assignments and exams on the days that immediately followed wellness days. This forced many students to dedicate their days off to studying and doing homework, rather than focusing on their well-being.

For the students who were granted grace from professors, the wellness days functioned as they were intended and seemed to have positive effects on students and faculty. During the wellness days, social media timelines were packed with images of well-rested students smiling and enjoying quality time by themselves or with loved ones.

Many went on hikes, took day trips to the beach, the mountains and other places, while others just relaxed in their homes and had a chance to truly breathe.

I want to see more of that content on my social media feeds. Now, I see students and faculty members sharing thoughts about how overwhelmed and overworked they are. It’s upsetting.

The University’s expectation for students to seamlessly transition back into in-person instruction without breaks in the academic calendar has been merciless. 

This is not to say that wellness days are the solution to these conditions, but they would definitely mitigate some of the burnout and give everyone a much needed moment to pause.

UNC must consider implementing wellness days now and beyond the pandemic, so I don’t have to risk an absence for granting myself a wellness day of my own.


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