Campus Life

Penn State announces spring 2021 wellness day program themes and formats

Flexible options available for Penn State students, faculty and staff

Credit: Penn State / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The University-wide team charged with developing programs for spring 2021 wellness days has announced more details about wellness day programs, including program themes for each of three wellness days and different formats for participating in programs.

As a critical part of the plans for spring 2021, the decision to eliminate spring break was made to reduce spread of the coronavirus through travel. Wellness days, which are for all undergraduate and graduate students and instructors across all campuses, were created as non-instructional days with a range of wellness day programs for all members of the Penn State community. The University-wide team charged with developing wellness day programs includes more than 30 faculty, students and staff. While components of social and emotional wellness will be at the core of all programming, each wellness day will focus on a theme:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 9 — Financial and occupational dimensions of wellness
  • Thursday, March 11 — Intellectual and spiritual wellness
  • Wednesday, April 7 — Physical and environmental wellness

Committee co-lead Dan Murphy, director of Student Orientation and Transition Programs, said that program themes are inspired by the NIRSA Models and Dimensions of Wellbeing. At the heart of the NIRSA model is a focus on integrative programs developed through a collaborative approach.

“Wellness day programs are intended to support the ability of individuals to focus on wellness, self-care and health,” Murphy said. “They are designed to enhance connections to the Penn State community and to provide resources to help us all have a successful spring semester.”

Recognizing that Penn Staters have different interests and priorities, the program team is planning programs in a variety of formats to meet the diverse needs of the Penn State community. Scheduling flexibility drives decision-making as well. Programs will range from University-wide activities and events that are open to all Penn Staters; to in-person and virtual activities hosted by campuses, academic colleges, departments, units or offices for their specific communities; and self-paced, guided activities individuals can do by themselves or within their “pod.” In addition, individuals are encouraged to use personal time to pursue the activities they know will support their own wellness.

“We hope to provide opportunities to support all members of the Penn State community as they focus on their health and wellness throughout the semester,” Murphy said.

Though no classes will be held on wellness days, University offices will remain open. Staff are encouraged to participate in wellness day programs during the workday as their schedules permit, but staff who wish to take a day off will be required to use vacation or personal time.

“We are asking supervisors to encourage their staff to participate in wellness day programming as work schedules and job duties allow,” said Lorraine Goffe, vice president for human resources and chief human resources officer. “Although wellness days are not holidays for staff members per se, we encourage staff to take advantage of the programs that will be available on these days. In addition, we encourage staff to use their vacation and personal time throughout the year to step away from the demands of work and focus on personal wellness.”

In addition to wellness day activities, Penn State HR offers a variety of self-care and wellness-themed programs that staff can participate in throughout the year, including self-paced programs, recorded webinars and real-time Zoom webinars.

With formats and themes for wellness day programs now set, the program team is engaged in assembling resources and tools from across the University to further develop the programming.

More information about wellness days, programs and FAQs can be found at The site will continue to be updated as program plans are finalized.

For the latest news and information about Penn State’s COVID-19 response, visit


Last Updated December 15, 2020