Dates announced for spring 2021 semester 'wellness' days

October 29, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — To support the mental health and well-being of students, faculty and staff during the spring 2021 semester, Penn State will hold three wellness days on which no classes will be held. The wellness days will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 9, Thursday, March 11 and Wednesday, April 7.

“With three wellness days, we will have one day in each full month throughout the spring semester to take a pause in teaching and learning and to focus on wellness, self-care and the health of our community in these unprecedented times,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones. “We have scheduled these wellness days after receiving input from a breadth of audiences, including hundreds of instructors and students, and we have taken careful consideration to choose different days of the week so that no course will be impacted disproportionately.”

Wellness days, which will be in place for both undergraduate and graduate students and instructors across all campuses, will be non-instructional days during which no classes will be held, although University offices will remain open. In addition to no instruction, special programs will be developed by committees reflecting the depth and breadth of Penn State’s expertise to support and engage students, instructors and staff. Programs will span a range of topics, including physical and mental health, spiritual wellness and social connection. 

Certain Penn State programs may need to adopt alternate formats for wellness days to allow their students to reap the intended benefits while also meeting their program requirements and achieving the needed learning outcomes in courses.

“We understand there may be circumstances where exceptions need to be made, and we are working with different teams to coordinate efforts and make sure the spirit of wellness days and access to programming are available to all Penn State students, instructors and staff, regardless of program or location,” said Yvonne Gaudelius, associate vice president and senior associate dean for Undergraduate Education. 

In special circumstances where program certifications/accreditations may limit the ability to pause instruction, such as clinicals for nursing or allied healthcare programs or education requirements for student teaching, unit academic heads will determine how best to recognize wellness days. Advanced planning efforts will also help account for courses with a lab component that are offered at multiple campuses and will be handled in a consistent manner as well as for planning undergraduate and graduate student participation in ongoing research. Planning efforts are underway to address these exceptions, and guidance will be provided on how wellness days may be recognized in these circumstances.

For the Penn State College of Medicine, Penn State Law and Dickinson Law, which follow different semester calendars, the academic leaders of each unit will determine individually how to incorporate wellness days into their semester schedules. Penn State World Campus students and instructors can expect to hear more about how their programs can incorporate wellness days into the asynchronous teaching and learning environment. For these students and instructors, plans are being made to offer campus-specific and University-wide wellness activities and to adjust instructional time during the three weeks when wellness days are scheduled.

Eliminating spring break is a critical part of the plans for spring 2021, the decision being made to reduce the possibility of spreading the virus through travel. A committee led by members of the Spring 2021 planning team partnered with Faculty Senate to survey faculty, staff and students in helping to identify the best approach to wellness days, including the number of days, the timing, and the types of activities that will support and engage the University community. 

Jones has reinforced the importance of working together to maintain the health and well-being of the Penn State community during the pandemic. 

“Wellness days are a reminder to tap into the many programs and support services Penn State offers for students, instructors and staff,” he said, “and that we need to practice self-care every day — now more than ever.”

More information about wellness days and associated programs will continue to be provided as plans are finalized. For the latest news and information about Penn State’s COVID-19 response, visit virusinfo.psu.edu.

 

Last Updated October 30, 2020