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Mental Health

“No Homework Days” Are Not a Sufficient Mental Health Break

After canceling Spring Break due to travel concerns during the pandemic, schools across the country received numerous complaints from students. Bradley was no exception. 

Bradley’s solution to this problem was to implement two “no homework” days throughout the semester. Professors were asked not to assign any projects, papers, tests or assignments in hopes that students would receive a day of calm among their semester’s storm.

The first “no homework day” of the semester took place this past week and students were left less-than-satisfied with the school’s efforts.

Originally labeled by the provost as an opportunity to “recharge and reset,” what students experienced felt more like playing catch-up. It didn’t help that the break came with little-to-no enforcement from the University, as only a single reminder email came after the initial December message.

“We expect students will attend class and learning will still occur, but we ask you not to assign homework, tests, quizzes, projects or papers on those dates,” said the provost in his initial message to faculty over Winter Break. Yet students found that professors simply pushed assignments to the following day rather than canceling them altogether, making the rest day more of a workday (assuming that they adjusted their schedule for the “no homework” order at all).

When it comes to offering a mental health break to students, Bradley missed the mark with this plan. 

Why Would a Mental Health Break Be So Important Anyway?

In a study conducted at Texas A&M University, 71% of students indicated that their stress levels had increased since the start of the pandemic. On top of that, 82% of students expressed concerns about their academic performance. This study was published in June of 2020 only a few months into the pandemic and following an otherwise normal school year. When you add the transition to online classes and pandemic fatigue while removing any other breaks in the semester (i.e Fall Break, Thanksgiving Break, Spring Break), students’ stress levels would presumably continue to increase. But when accommodations were given by professors – such as the option for a pass/fail grading system or alternative grading techniques – students’ stress actually decreased.

Though the study was conducted in Texas, this is not an isolated issue. Students around the world continue to experience similar mental health concerns. When treated properly, revitalization is possible, but two (not so) homework-free days are not going to solve this issue.

If you are struggling, please reach out to Bradley’s Counseling Center at (309) 677- 2700 or explore the resources listed here

Allison is the Campus Correspondent and the Founder of the Bradley University chapter of Her Campus. She is a senior at Bradley majoring in Journalism and Social Media Marketing with a minor in Management & Leadership. In her free time she enjoys baking, hiking, or curling up on the couch with her cats.
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