Faculty, students used wellness day in different ways

In a normal year, students look forward to spring break as a mental health break halfway through the semester. But this last year has been anything but normal. Spring break was canceled in January after the university expressed concerns over mass travel and its potential to cause a spike in COVID-19 cases on campus. (File Photo by Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)

Without spring break, this semester has been far from normal. University officials canceled spring break because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and concern of increased cases of the virus after spring break. Students usually look forward to the mental vacation halfway through the semester.

So, to give students time to compensate for the lost break, Kansas State had a mental wellness day on Friday, April 16. Some professors gave students some extra time off, providing them a long weekend. Every professor handled the break differently.

“I have tried to take breaks now and again and give students a mental break,” Daniel Hoyt, professor of English, said.

Hoyt said he gave his students multiple days off throughout the semester, letting them relax and regroup. Hoyt said he’s glad mental wellness is being addressed, especially during the stress of a global pandemic.

However, some students did not get a break at all, even with the wellness day. Angelica Webster, graduate student in education, only takes online classes. While there was no in-person class, she still had assignments due.

“I am feeling relieved that [this semester] is over, but I am happy with all of the growth that I have made,” Webster said.

Webster said spring break is a great time for students to decompress, spend time together and make memories with friends and family.

While COVID-19 has complicated matters, many are looking forward to normalcy returning in the upcoming semesters — professors included.

Andrew Smith, professor of practice in journalism, oversees the student television news production. Smith said he made several safety accommodations in the room and gave students the week before the mental wellness day off in observation of the day. He also gave students in his other classes the week off from their scheduled quizzes and assignments.

“The goal of education is to learn, and we want to minimize obstacles to that,” Smith said.