Editor’s Note: The reading day policy was provided in an email from the President’s Office to The Nevada Sagebrush.
Following the cancellation of Spring Break, the University of Nevada, Reno implemented “reading days,” citing the demand to provide “needed breaks”. However, per the university’s policy instructors are allowed to host class if they receive approval from their respective dean.
The policy was not explicitly communicated to students, according to the university’s Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education, David Shintani.
“(UNR) did not state in (the original announcement) that these were sort of meant to be instruction days. We didn’t communicate that well,” Shintani said.
Additionally, Shintani said the information sent to students and faculty had different intents.
“(Both messages) serve different purposes…,” Shintani said. “We didn’t communicate that these were still instructional days to students, it was not clear that these were not just days off. They were meant to be breaks from the classroom not necessary instruction, that was the intent. It doesn’t look like that was included in the announcement to students.”
He added that faculty had approached administration saying they could not afford to lose those days of instruction, which is why the university wrote the policy the way they did.
When reading days were first announced, university President Brian Sandoval issued a statement to the campus community saying reading days would provide much needed rest.
“Our ‘Reading Days,’ although they do not constitute a complete spring break, will nonetheless provide the people of our campus community with five needed days of mental and physical respite as we face the continuing challenges of COVID-19,” said Sandoval in an announcement to students December 2020.
Initially Sandoval announced certain labs and studio based courses may hold class, if necessary.
The current policy gives professors the autonomy to decide if classes are needed. According to the university, the policy was just provided to instructors and was not provided to students.
“We are aware that for various reasons, such as laboratory, performance, and field base courses, some of you may not be able to assign alternative out-of-class learning opportunities on one or more of the scheduled Reading Days,” the policy read. “If you feel that in-class instruction is necessary on one or more of the scheduled Reading Days, please confer with your department chair and dean to gain approval. If approval is granted, you must clearly state in the course syllabus and schedule, on which Reading Days will you being teaching class and, in addition to being responsible for the material, whether or not class attendance will be mandatory on those specific days.”
Despite not all professors hosting class on these days, students who do have class expressed concern.
Sheridan Walund, a fifth-year student at the university, said by her professors holding classes on reading days she feels annoyed and frustrated.
“I feel incredibly disrespected by my professors and the college by having class on (reading days),” Walund said. “I was under the impression reading days were just a day for students to just recoup, to calm down and rest up. By that being taken away by one of my professors it’s just disrespectful.”
She added that without these days off, she can’t pick up shifts at work or take time to reconnect with friends.
“These days were promised by administration … in place of spring break.” she said. “The whole university has this day off and there’s no class except for the select few professors that don’t feel like they don’t need to obey by that. The school should be doing something to prevent this from happening.”
Like Walund, Catherine Schofield, a third-year student at the university, said she feels professors hosting classes are not taking into consideration student needs.
“It makes me feel like professors who choose to have class are putting their class above student’s mental health and needs,” Schofield told The Nevada Sagebrush. “Without spring break students are going practically all semester without a break and it’s exhausting. Professors wouldn’t ask us to do that in a normal year so I don’t know why they think that it’s okay to do during a year that’s anything but normal.”
Schofield said reading days seemed like a good alternative to spring break but the execution wasn’t helpful.
“I would have rather seen a few no instruction days spread through the semester instead of adding another week onto winter break,” Schofield said. “I really didn’t like that extra week on winter break. Now some professors are saying that reading day’s are basically optional because we had that week taken away already. That’s how it was explained to my class as to why my professor is holding class.”
Reading days are designated on:
- Thursday, February 25, 2021
- Tuesday, March 9, 2021
- Wednesday, March 10, 2021
- Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Andrew Mendez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @amendez2000.