Advocating for Student Mental Health, SMOB Peter Banyas Introduces Half Days Every Third Wednesday of the Month

By Audrey Parker and Nafisa Anjum

Starting December 15, every third Wednesday of the month will be a half-day to focus on mental health and work on school work. Howard County’s Student Member of the Board Peter Banyas announced the half-day dates on his Instagram. According to the post, December 15, January 19, February 16, March 16, April 27, and May 18 were the days chosen for each month.

This decision has pleased students since many were upset when they found out there would be no more asynchronous Wednesdays due to scheduling.

“I really liked the idea of having every Wednesday off last year, it gave me time to get myself together. I think that having these half days will get everyone back to how it was then,” explained Mt. Hebron freshman Frances Mouangue.

This year especially could be stressful for students because schools switched back from virtual to in-person learning. Students have found it hard to adjust, but being able to leave early on the allotted days might give them more time to complete schoolwork and decrease the stress that school puts on students. 

“For me I was more stressed to be in the building because I hadn’t been in the building in so long,” stated Mounague.

Although these days were given to help students catch up and get ahead on schoolwork, some students may increase their stress by procrastinating all of their work for the half day.

“I think this is a smart tactic, but they could give more ideas on how to schedule your week and plan things so people aren’t as stressed and doing it all on this half day,”  Mt. Hebron freshman Jordan Remsburg said. 

The feelings of teachers are not often considered, similar to students who come to school to work and then go back home with more work than they had in the morning. “If teachers and students are overloaded with work both of them are going to be stressed, that’s obvious. We are all going to be stressed and we are not going to take care of ourselves like we’re supposed to. We’re putting our mental health aside just to make sure we do what the system expects us to do.” Mt. Hebron Spanish teacher Ms. Reyes states.

This half day barely lowers the amount of work they still have to do. Usually, they are swamped with grading and have to take a chunk of it home, so just these few hours during the workday make the week slightly less taxing.

“I think that more than once a month would be very helpful,” says Mt. Hebron math teacher Ms. Vealey. She finds that while a few free hours in the afternoon are helpful, they do not make much difference. If it were up to her, she would make the half days more often because  practice days are necessary for a math class, and extra time to plan would take some weight off her shoulders. She believes people might come back into the building on Thursday a little more prepared mentally after having some time off. 

“It is very hard to take care of yourself when you are pushed to your limits,” explained Ms.Vealey. “Both teachers and students are pushed to their best. And, although schools try their best to advocate for mental health, some find it hard to be open about the topic. Future half days create an opportunity for the school system to vocalize what they can do to help both students and teachers by preventing possible burnouts throughout the year,” she stated. 

As SMOB, it is in Baynas’s hands to represent and vocalize concerns of the students here. Starting with the concern for the mental health of students, the future early dismissals are one of many things Baynas has in store for Howard County and making student lives more manageable.

Categories: Opinions

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