Campus Life

Penn State to create 'wellness' days for spring 2021 semester

Non-instructional wellness days will replace spring break, support mental well-being

Credit: Curtis Chan / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — To support the mental health and well-being of students, faculty and staff, Penn State will build “wellness” days into the spring 2021 academic calendar in place of the traditional weeklong spring break. A critical part of the plans for spring 2021, the decision to eliminate spring break was made to reduce the possibility of spreading the virus through travel. Wellness days will be non-instructional days for students and instructors and no classes will be held, although University offices will remain open. Special programs will be developed and delivered on wellness days to support and engage students, instructors and staff, and discourage travel outside of campus communities.  

“The health and safety of our community during the ongoing pandemic has guided our decision-making for spring semester and the subsequent elimination of spring break. We also know it’s important to practice self-care and take care of our mental well-being,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “Our community is dealing with added stressors and pressure from COVID-19, and the addition of wellness days will provide a break from course instruction and offer additional programming to support instructors, students and staff.” 

The dates and number of wellness days has not yet been determined, but a committee is being formed to identify the approach, including the number of days, the timing, and the types of activities that will support and engage students, faculty and staff. The committee is being formed by Andrea Dowhower, associate vice president for Student Affairs; Elizabeth Seymour, chair of the University Faculty Senate and associate teaching professor at Penn State Altoona; and Michael Verderame, senior associate dean in the Graduate School. This group is part of the spring 2021 planning team and will consider the needs of students, instructors and staff in its decision-making and program development. Wellness days will be scheduled throughout the semester in order for Penn State to meet the 15 weeks of instruction required by federal and state regulations and accreditation standards.

“Everyone has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s important we as a community work together to maintain our health and well-being. Programs offered on wellness days will be designed to help us stay connected with others, while providing access to resources to help us all have a successful spring semester,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones.

In addition to special wellness day programs, Penn State offers the following health and wellness resources:

Counseling and Psychological Services

Counseling and Psychological Services offers a wide range of services for undergraduate and graduate students, including wellness and self-help options; group, individual and couples counseling; crisis intervention; psychiatric services; and community and outreach services for the University community.

Counseling and Psychological Services — University Park campus

Counseling and Psychological Services — Commonwealth Campuses


You@PSU connects students from all campuses to online tools and campus resources to support their goals to succeed, thrive and matter.

Employee Assistance Program

Penn State’s Employee Assistance Program is a free, confidential employee and family resource to be used as a first line of support for personal or work-related concerns for employees or their families. Among the services offered, a licensed EAP professional can provide short-term counseling by phone, email or in person.

Additional information related to the spring 2021 semester will continue to be provided as plans are developed and finalized. For the latest news and information about Penn State’s COVID-19 response, visit


Last Updated October 15, 2020