Art by Alyssa Morrone
It has almost been a year since schools went to an online format, changing school life completely for all students. After such a long period of lacking social interaction and interaction in classrooms and the lack of stability in their home, school, and social life, students have been metally affected, possibly for years to come.
Academically, students have had to assess, mainly on their own, how to manage their time for classes and assignments. While some students have benefited from the new format, the loss of physical interaction for many others decreases motivation and causes a slow work ethic, further affecting students ability to handle their own time and organize all their work.
“I have noticed a greater amount of students coming to me, For things like either anxiety or depression…lack of motivation in school,” said Kami Kurisu, a counselor at SJHHS.
Apart from the academic setbacks distanced learning has had on students there has also been a drastic impact on the social well-being of students.
According to Stanford Children’s Health, teen years which are between the ages of 13-18 are when abstract thinking begins. This means it is important for teenagers to have healthy interactions during this period for development later on in life and for their overall mental health in general.
The usual social time that students would get during lunch, break, or even just in the classroom is now lost. Any connection with teachers has also been lost, as online learning limits the amount of small talk and verbal connection between students and teachers.
This does not just affect students who chose to learn 100% online, but also students who learn in a 50/50 format as they only go into school 2 days out of the week with very limited peers to talk with or interactions in general.
“I feel like the long-lasting negative effects [of quarantine] are going to be social anxiety. Because we have been forced to limit communication a lot of students from this generation are not going to have sharp social skills,” said Kurisu.
Apart from missing out on social interactions, students have lost a general sense of community usually created from school life.
All the day-to-day activities that bring students closer to their teachers, friends, and peers are reduced or gone. These small things distance students from the school and can cause them to feel isolated or alone.
However, the situation is not hopeless. Distance learning has not taken away our ability to connect, it has only taken our main source of connection with each other. It is still vital that we maintain distance to stay safe, but small attempts to reach out can help to alleviate feelings of isolation.
Even just trying to meet up with a friend outside or giving them a call can improve mental health and create a sense of community once again.
“Putting the effort forward and being honest with your friends is so important. It’s getting that communication out there because more likely than naught, they feel a similar way,” said Kurisu.
The counseling department at SJHHS also offers help for students in their Counseling Corner where they provide information about mental health specifically dealing with COVID-19 for students and parents, as well as recourses for bullying, coping, and grief.
COVID-19 has created a life-changing experience that we are still navigating through. During the pandemic, health should be our number one concern, physically and mentally. So if you or someone you know feels alone or stressed, the smallest step towards connection can make all the difference.