As I am writing this, our university’s wellness break is nearly done. Echoing the clamors of students who were stuck at home for their online classes, and imitating those institutions who went on and gave the precious time of rest for their students, my university offered one week of rest for studying: no classes for both synchronous and asynchronous sessions, no assignments or projects, no advance readings or anything.
Unfortunately, this week was just like the other weeks I had since I started school this year due to other commitments. But I do admit that it was an eye-opener: I was able to explore more things around me and was made aware of some places that are quite new here in our city. However, I admit that taking a rest from all the study materials allowed me to enjoy mundane activities, especially catching up on my Netflix list and cozying up next to my wife.
I can attest to the stress and worry that online students have been flooding social media platforms about their classes on the internet. Yes, there is less hassle and less interaction with others (one thing that I enjoyed), but it is hard asking questions when things are not clear. Additionally, the recent typhoons that ravaged the Philippines, paired with the harrowing images of destructed houses and helpless people, may have added to the anxiety that has been brewing since classes started in September/October.
I, for one, have previously relayed my frustration and anxiety because of this pandemic. Having this wellness break is something that I really value.
Besides my university, other schools have also followed and set some form of a break, calling it from reading breaks to class breaks, emphasizing students’ need to free up their minds for some rest. Most of those in Luzon were given in response to the damaging effects of the area’s typhoons.
Some groups are actually asking to prioritize the students’ conditions in this pandemic and instead call for halting all classes as soon as solutions to the growing problems in the country loom. Some netizens support this call, yet others consider this as insensitive and unideal. Whatever your opinion on this matter, we should all know to point out some facts.
Online Classes are Necessary to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19
Nobody wanted COVID-19 to happen, especially for the people here in the Philippines. While the government is repeating its interest in prioritizing waiting for the vaccine to arrive before calling the pandemic a solved issue, avoiding crowds, wearing face masks, and washing hands remain the easiest protection that people need to avoid disease.
Zhou et al. (2020) have seen how online classes in China have helped prevent the pandemic. As much as we would like to see students interact with each other, online classes are the only ideal solution today.
Teaching Online is a Challenge for Those Who are Not Used to It
Even though this post presents the plight of the students first, it is undeniable that teachers are another set of people greatly affected by the shift in the mode of instruction. Teachers can be interactive in their approach, and having online classes could remove the connection they want to have with their students.
While interaction may occur in synchronous classes, asynchronous ones, or those recorded before the classes’ schedule, are even worse. They can be watched at other times and eventually be forgotten by the student.
Online Classes can Cause Burnouts in the Long Run.
Perhaps the most relatable feeling in this pandemic, burnout from both students and teachers can occur. Inevitably, this happens not because modern-day teachers and students are entitled and are not up for the challenge, but because experiencing burnout is not a weakness.
Mheidly, Fares, and Fares (2020) have pointed out the relationship between prolonged exposure to digital devices and mental health, so much so that it creates the feeling of being a burnout, especially with daily classes. This phenomenon exists in both students and teachers.
Ways to Cope with Online Class (and this Pandemic!)
It is, therefore, undeniable that any wellness break could help students. But, thankfully, there are ways to address some matters and create an inward change for coping adapted from the paper of Mheidly, Fares, and Fares. Here are some of them:
- Spread awareness of the possibility of being burnout.
- Have some breaks between online class activities.
- Undergo programs that are proven to help counter burnout.
- Listen to others sharing about their problems and communicate your own worries to others.
- Ensure to have plenty of exercises to divert unnecessary sedentary behaviors.
- Try to quit bad habits.
- Join and support online communities that help in cases like this.
For me, my wellness break allowed me to write my first blog entry in months. I intend to spend it better as its end draws near. We can hope that the pandemic ends soon for these additional problems to go away.