COVID-19 has introduced uncertainty into major parts of our lives. Mostly underlying inequalities of remote learning. inequalities that hold many students back. 2.2 billion, which is 2/3 of our population, children ages 25 years or less don’t have internet access at home. School closures have brought on social isolation for students and have cut the access to certain services that were only offered by schools. Last year schools were not prepared, as 55 million students in the United States were out of school due to the pandemic.
Teachers were not ready to provide a digital lesson plan via zoom. They struggled to meet the needs of schools and families, including planning how best to approach the rest of the year. Not only has this impacted students’ learning but may have worsened existing mental health problems and/or have led to new mental health problems. Dr. Wellman, a professor at Indiana University teaching Neuroscience and Psychology, mentions in her research, “You see deficits in your ability to regulate emotions in adaptive ways as a result of stress”. Mental health and academics are linked. Stress can change the chemical and physical structure of the brain. It can impair cognitive skills like attention, concentration, memory and creativity. Mental health, whether it be depression, stress, anxiety, etc. can hinder the child’s performance.
For a lot of kids, being in school is their safe place, whether they attend elementary, middle school or even college. Speaking from personal experience, school is my home away from home. It is where I met my best friend and some of the best teachers I know, who have made an impact on my life and have helped mode and shape me into the woman I am today. These relationships are important in a child’s life and play an essential part in the future the child has. Schools offer the opportunity for the child to be social and express themselves. Taking away those relationships and/or the opportunity to have those relationships can cause the child to feel lonely, unmotivated and discouraged.
School routines are important when it comes to coping mechanisms for children dealing with mental health issues. Closing the schools has caused them to lose an anchor in life causing any child with existing health problems to relapse. On top of school closures, the pandemic has caused those to lose loved ones. They deal with bereavement, isolation, fear etc. Parents dealing with loss of income, which can have an impact on the child as well. Like a parent feels for their child when they see something is wrong, a child receives that same feeling. Watching your mom or dad struggle and not being able to help them is a weight that sits on your shoulders.
School during the pandemic: Mental health impacts on students. (2020, September 17). Retrieved March 03, 2021, from https://namica.org/blog/impact-on-the-mental-health-of-students-during-covid-19/
Terada, Y. (2020, June 24). Covid-19's impact on students' academic and mental well-being. Retrieved March 03, 2021, from https://www.edutopia.org/article/covid-19s-impact-students-academic-and-mental-well-being