Northwest Missourian Opinion

On March 11, students and staff received a special email from the office of President Jasinski announcing that Friday, April 2, would be designated as a “day of engagement and wellness for students and employees.” There will be no classes and all offices will be closed.

I’m sure that everyone is glad that we get just an extra day for some kind of break. I don’t know why you wouldn’t be. The only feasible reason I can think of is fear of spreading COVID-19. Hopefully the risk is minimized since it is only a three-day weekend.

I am not a psychiatrist, nor do I feel I am in any way qualified to talk medically about mental health, but in my own experience at least, it’s the little things that count. Whether it’s burnout or stress or depression, anything that the University can do to help with the stresses of college life is a good thing, even if it's a simple gesture of a three-day weekend. It’s not a lot, but it will provide a small opportunity for some mental recuperation.

Mental health among college students should not be taken lightly. It’s bad enough when there isn’t a pandemic going on. Nearly 45% of college students across the U.S. reported having a symptom of depression and 80% reporting suffering from stress daily, according to College Stats. One in five students reported that their mental health had significantly worsened due to COVID-19’s effects on society, according to Desert News.

It’s no secret that mental health has been thrust to the forefront of everyone’s mind during this past year. It’s nice to see the University taking this seriously in some fashion and acting to help not only students, but faculty and staff.

For our extra day off, I’m going to spend it at home with my family, as I suspect most students will. I’m leaving Thursday afternoon after I’m done with classes, and some may have already left by then. Placing the day off right before a holiday weekend was most likely a strategic move on the University’s part.

I’m glad we get a day off. It’s not even close to compensation for no spring break, the only thing that can achieve that is dead week — or as Northwest says, “prep week” — but I still appreciate the gesture. 

I think I speak for all of the students when I say we certainly deserved a spring break this year, though I think it was the wise choice to not have one. But we can all agree that this one last long weekend before the end of the historic 2020-21 school year is one we deserve. After a year of Zoom meetings, quarantining and drama about wearing a piece of cloth, there is no doubt a break we all deserve.

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