WC should supplement lack of snow days by implementing mental health days

By Lexi Meola

Elm Staff Writer

This spring 2021 semester, Washington College has closed campus three times because of snow and ice. Although classes are virtual, some students believe they should be cancelled when campus is closed. 

Enforcing virtual snow days is impractical due to the way it will force professors to rewrite their syllabi.  It would be better to implement mental health days throughout the semester to help take some of the stress caused by heavy workloads off of students. Professors can do this by allocating one or two days a semester as “mental health days” — holding themselves accountable by writing these breaks into their syllabi.

Licensed psychologist Dr. Ashley Hampton told Healthline, “If you feel overwhelmed, stressed, have trouble focusing or concentrating on work or at home, or are more irritable, then you may want to consider taking a mental health day.” 

In an online poll answered by 15 WC students and administered via GroupMe, 12 said there should be virtual snow days while three disagreed.

The poll results indicated that some students are in favor of virtual snow days.

Being on Zoom for hours a day is not healthy for anyone — Psychiatric Times acknowledges Zoom fatigue as “widely prevalent” and “intense.” Some WC students expressed how desperate they are for a break from the stress of constant online meetings, classes, and homework.

Senior Will Reid said that he could use a virtual snow day to take a break from technology, catch up on work, and relax without having to worry about missing a Zoom call. He believes that cancelling virtual classes in accordance with closing campus could positively impact the mental health of WC students.

“I absolutely think snow days give a good mental health break for students,” Reid said. “I think that it gives us a day to relax and just have fun. My mood is affected by the weather, as are others’ [moods]. So, when I see snow, I want to get something warm to drink and cuddle up with a good book. I can’t do that if I have classes from 9 a.m.–5 p.m.”

Junior Maggie Poppiti also believes that virtual snow days could be beneficial for students.

“I do believe that every once in a while, like during the winter season if there’s a snow day on a Friday or a Monday that we should have a snow day,” she said. “It’s nice to have time where we do not have to focus on our work or time when we can catch up on work if we are behind.”

Other students questioned the worth of having to postpone lessons that could have proceeded as usual, subsequently causing students to fall behind in their classes.

 “There is no point in losing a day and having to play catch-up if all we are doing is sitting on our laptops. It would be a waste of a day and more stress would be put on the student and professor,” junior Meagan Jenkins said.

Sophomore Julia Totis agrees with Jenkins’s sentiment. 

“With snow days, it would be nice to have a break, but it would cause more work and stress in the long run. We are still able to learn so I feel like it would be a waste of time,” she said.

“I think we shouldn’t wait for snow days to give students a mental health day,” Jenkins said. “Those should be scheduled into the professor’s syllabi. Students should have a mental health day scheduled in each class at least once a month, maybe twice. If we only use snow days as a mental health day, then how would students have one in the warmer months?” 

I believe this is a good compromise. WC faculty should work on having mental health days built into every semester — whether that be through individual professors in their syllabi, or through the official school schedule. 

Featured Photo caption: The sight of WC covered in snow has caused some students to lament the loss of what would have been a day of cancelled classes pre-virtual learning. Photo by Ben Wang.

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