As the spring semester begins, students brace themselves for burnout

Students react to exhaustion in remote learning

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(McKenna Premus/Daily Collegian)

By Cameron Gibney, Collegian Staff

After a long winter break, University of Massachusetts students have returned for the spring semester as the University continues to navigate unusual and challenging times.

For almost a year, a variety of changes provoked by COVID-19 have uprooted student and faculty life from their normal routine. Like the fall semester and part of the previous spring semester, most campus activities will continue to use a virtual format this semester in order to meet ongoing social distancing guidelines.

While sweeping alterations have been made to the academic semester since the fall – most notably of which the removal of spring break – preexisting concerns of learning in the COVID-19-era continue to linger.

In March of last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic became widespread, the UMass community found itself in a historic moment. As the threat of the virus grew increasingly dire, questions and concerns arose on campus from the ground up.

Many were worried at the idea of  physical distance from school brought about by COVID-19, while others were concerned with the ramifications of remote learning. Some students feared exhaustion or burnout, one of the most-discussed perils of socially distant education.

“I think I got [exhausted] sooner in the semester than usual,” said Michelle Thach, a senior public health and psychology major, of the fall semester. “You couldn’t really get immerse yourself in an academic mindset in the comfort of your own home.”

“Burnout can feel discouraging,” said Kaitlin Roslonek, a junior psychology major. “I didn’t feel like I absorbed the information last semester that I should have. I hope that will change this semester.”

Now that the new semester has begun, UMass students are again returning to remote learning, and they are adopting their own unique ways to fight burnout.

“I plan to stop exhaustion by seeing friends as much as I can,” Thach said.  “You’ve got to keep things fun, but COVID safe,” said senior biology major Julia Barrett, crediting her friends for helping to maintain her happiness. “Keeping things exciting is how I avoid burnout.”

“I would encourage a healthy sleep cycle [to avoid exhaustion],” Roslonek said. “To me, at least seven hours of sleep a night is essential.”

The University has taken measures against the contingency of student burnout. For the spring semester, UMass has administered a series of class-free days, dubbed “Wellbeing Wednesdays,” which aim to relieve students of academic pressure.

The projected dates are Feb. 24, March 1 and April 14, according to the University’s official website.

Cameron Gibney can be reached at cg[email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @HayesGibney.