After listening to feedback from students, faculty and staff last semester, Albion College administration made the decision to add four wellness days to Modules C and D. These days are officially planned for Feb. 10, March 16, April 17, and May 4, and no classes are scheduled on these days. Interim Provost Ron Mourad has asked faculty to refrain from assigning additional work, according to an email sent by Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Registrar Drew Dunham on Jan. 21.
Academic calendars are typically made three years in advance, but as cases of COVID-19 continued to worsen earlier this year, Albion College was forced to make swift decisions regarding the 2020-2021 calendar.
Last May, the college created the idea of a module system in which students would complete two of their classes over the course of seven weeks. Students would take their remaining classes over the following seven weeks, accounting for 14 weeks in total. The original plan for the module system plan did not include breaks.
In the rushed schedules of Modules A and B, the need to pause became abundantly clear. Teachers grew tired of cramming a semester’s worth of knowledge into a few weeks, and students were unenthusiastic about starting new classes the day after final exams.
“I hardly got any rest after finishing my classes for Module A,” said Helena Abbott, a freshman from Bethesda, Md. “I understand that it’s because of COVID-19, but I had a really hard time starting Module B, especially with finals over the weekend.”
Many students and staff volunteered their feedback on the module system, and a common theme prevailed: the want for break days during the spring semester.
As a result, the Student Development Office assembled students for the COVID-19 Student Accountability Committee, who made recommendations to the Academic Cabinet regarding wellness days. The Academic Cabinet then proposed some possible calendar revisions to the President’s Cabinet, who ultimately made the decision to include them.
“Without a break in it, even with weekends that we’re used to, without a break occasionally it’s difficult for students, and we heard that,” said Dunham.
Dunham said he also heard from individual students about adding break days to the spring semester, but his main concern was losing class days.
“For the spring semester, I was able to maneuver the existing days that we had in such a way that we could free up four days for students. We moved the finals differently, so that accomplished most of it,” Dunham said.
He took the four days that originally separated commencement and the last day of class and plugged them into different days in the schedule.
After some revision, the final schedule for the spring semester includes a break day in each month. The wellness day on March 16 splits Modules C and D so that students and staff can have a longer rest before starting new classes. On May 4, a Reading Day will give students a chance to either study or relax before final exams for Module D.
“These wellness days will give me a chance to take some time for myself and be able to relax, declutter my mind and space, and feel fresh to start again the next day,” said Niyati Kellenbery Callewaert, a junior from Ann Arbor.
Jesse Jordan, a sophomore from Concord who commutes to campus everyday, welcomes the changes.
“College is stressful and any chance for me to get away for a while is much obliged,” he said.
Overall, students were relieved to learn about the changes coming to this semester’s schedule.
“I do like the concept and think it should be continued in the semesters that follow,” Callewaert said.