Dear Faculty and Instructional Staff,
I appreciate all your efforts in responding to the challenges of this year and especially this semester. As we approach what in a typical semester would be spring break, we are seeing many signs that the pandemic is slowly abating in our region and on our campus. Following the fall announcement that the traditional spring break would be canceled to minimize travel during the semester, we announced in January that for the week of the traditional spring break (March 22-26) we were planning a “Wellness Week.” The purpose of this week is to give students a moment to focus on personal wellness. Many of our faculty have made adjustments to their courses for that week, and groups and organizations are planning various opportunities for self-care. You can read more about some of these plans here.
I am writing today to thank those faculty and instructional staff who already have altered their courses for Wellness Week, perhaps by moving an exam, changing a due date on a paper or planning a different kind of lecture for Wellness Week. If you have done something, I would encourage you to tell your students about the changes that you have made, even if it is a relatively minor change. Students very much appreciate the acknowledgement of the additional stress that they are under. I know that some of us have high school or college-age children, and if you do, I would ask you to consider the kinds of stresses your own kids are experiencing in their educational lives right now. Not all struggles are obvious, and letting your students know you are aware of the challenges they might be facing can go a long way.
If you have not yet altered your course expectations for Wellness Week, I would ask that you consider doing so. Take a lecture slot to have an informal discussion with your students, delay a due date, or cancel an assignment. If you are a mentor for graduate students, cancel a meeting or turn a meeting into a discussion of their life and career. I have talked to many faculty who are concerned about students’ well-being, and in many cases the first step toward helping a student is asking how they are doing or telling them that you care. If you are concerned about a particular student, resources on how you can help are available here.
I also encourage you to take some time during Wellness Week to focus on your own well-being. We all could use a moment to rest and recharge, particularly as we reach the midpoint of the semester. Whatever that looks like for you, please take care of yourselves.
With deep appreciation for all that you are doing,
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs