Baylor Wellness offers faculty alternative for canceling class on sick days

Don't Cancel that Class! program brings in members from Baylor's Wellness department to teach students about wellness ideals when a professor is unable to teach. Sarah Pinkerton | Photographer

By Erianne Lewis | Staff Writer

Baylor wellness’s education and outreach department offers Don’t Cancel that Class! as an option for faculty members who are unable to teach their class due to illness or other personal conflicts that may arise.

The program allows instructors to call in someone from the wellness department to provide helpful resources for students on a variety of topics related to wellness.

Alyssa Petty, wellness education and outreach coordinator at Baylor, said she is proud to say she created this option during her time in undergrad.

“I worked at another institution where we implemented this in my internship,” Petty said. “Don’t Cancel that Class! is a program that allows faculty to utilize the department of wellness to fill in during class time. So instead of canceling the class, pre-COVID because of a conference or maybe they were sick, their children have doctor’s appointments, all those things, they can call in someone from the department of wellness to discuss all things wellness: sleep, stress management, time management, you name it.”

Petty said this program began at Baylor last semester and aimed to showcase all the department of wellness has to offer.

“Our overall goal is to give exposure to our department but also cultivate a culture of wellness so that people understand that you can implement wellness into your day-to-day life. It just takes a little grace and some finessing to make it happen,” Petty said. “It’s not a clear out-written goal, but that’s the gist of why we created this.”

Petty said stress management and sleep hygiene are the most popular presentations faculty members request for their students.

“Usually, students and faculty would like to know more about stress management things they can do to help keep their stress at bay and understand that stress isn’t a bad thing, it just needs to be managed and used appropriately. So, stress management and then the next one would be our sleep hygiene, which [discusses] ‘How do you get enough sleep?’ ‘What does it look like?’ ‘How can you promote better rest?’ Those have been our most popular,” Petty said.

Dr. Dana Lee Haines, manager of business administration in the student development department, said she used the Don’t Cancel that Class! option in early March as a part of her class’s curriculum.

“Alyssa Petty … came to facilitate a dialogue with our class on the topic of health and wellness,” Haines said. “Alyssa’s presentation was titled ‘Eight Dimensions of Wellness’ and covered areas of emotional, physical, social, occupational, financial, environmental, spiritual and intellectual. Within those topics she addressed stressors, coping effectively, self-care, connection and belonging, as well as sense of purpose. Alyssa also included a goal-setting exercise for health improvement,” Haines said.

Haines said her students seemed to remain alert throughout the entire presentation.

“Students were attentive and involved with a matching quiz to test their knowledge of those topics … After each correct response was displayed Alyssa discussed the rationale behind each correct answer while allowing for students to ask questions at any time during the presentation,” Haines said.

Petty said the presentations are taught by Baylor wellness staff, but they are transitioning to include students working in the department as well.

“We have about five staff members on board. We also have our peer health educator program, [which] has just newly been implemented this spring. So in the fall, they will be trained to have students be able to give peer to peer presentations in the classroom setting,” Petty said.

Haines said she would use this option again over having class canceled any day.

“This option for a wellness discussion in the event that I was physically absent is one that I would certainly choose instead of having class canceled for that day,” Haines said. “Wellness is significant for students to keep learning about healthy living.”