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The Impact of Coronavirus: Effects on Student Learning and Mental Health

Updated: Feb 15, 2022

In the era of social-distancing and remote learning, it has affected the mental health of our youth.

Most states are reopening their schools for in-person learning after the pandemic forced most students to learn virtually. Students have lost almost an entire year of in-person education. They are going to be held back in many ways. The disruption to K-12 education caused by the coronavirus pandemic has had many question whether students should be held back a grade or not. School is also beneficial for working parents. In the past year, many parents have had to figure out the logistics to care for their children.

The emergence of COVID-19 has changed much of life as we know it. Things have been anything but ordinary. In the era of social-distancing and remote learning, it has affected the mental health of our youth. They have lost all forms of a social life. Social distancing has had a different emotional impact on today's youth than adults.

Young children and adolescents need school for many reasons; School teaches them how to develop social skills and inspires individual growth.

More than 30 million children depend on U.S. schools for free or reduced-price meals; millions of them go to bed hungry without school lunches.

For many students, schools are also a safe haven- for them, especially if they're coming from an abusive household.

The absence of sports has also left many youth athletes isolated, depressed, and anxious. The cancellation of youth sports during the coronavirus pandemic has taken a significant toll on student-athletes mental health. Not only were their social lives taken away due to the switch to online learning, but once the reality hit that they wouldn't be able to play their beloved sport---depression hit. The physicality of playing sports is also important, providing a way to release energy and emotions. Thoughts of their identity and dreams of their future vanished. Many student-athletes hoped that this was their year to be noticed by scouts.

Youth suicide had risen before the pandemic hit; it is the second leading cause of death for high school-aged kids. The Centers for Disease Control asked young adults in a survey whether they thought of killing themselves in the past 30 days. One in four said yes. A study conducted found that more than two-thirds of high school athletes reported feeling depressed since the pandemic and shutdowns began. Students have also started or increased substance use to cope with stress due to the pandemic.

Despite the coronavirus's continuing to spread, a school district in Nevada opened schools for the Spring 2021 semester because they saw a rise in suicides. "When we started to see the uptick in children taking their lives, we knew it wasn't just the COVID numbers we need to look at anymore," said Clark County Superintendent Jesus Jara. In the Clark County school district, 18 students took their own lives in the final nine months of 2020.

Schools across the country opened up their doors for in-person learning this semester. However, this comes with news rules, including temperature checks, social distancing, and mandatory face coverings. Water fountains and lockers in schools are closed off to avoid the spread of germs. Schools have also put students in different cohorts meaning some students come in at the beginning of the week while others come in at the end of the week, allowing the schools time to clean and disinfect in-between cohort schedules. According to the CDC, schools in "red zones" should stay hybrid, with strict social distancing when reopening. As of the date of this publication," red zone" schools remain close for now.

According to the CDC, less than 10% of Covid-19 cases in the United States have been among children and adolescents. However, schools aren't considered a hotspot for the virus. Schools weigh the risks of reopening as teachers fear catching the virus. State policymakers are currently working with a limited number of vaccines. Teachers have argued that they want the COVID-19 vaccine before they head back to the classroom. In early February, the CDC said vaccinating teachers is not a prerequisite for opening schools.

President Biden's goal is to open all schools by his 100th day in office. Currently, 60 percent of students are still not going to school full time. Virtual learning is still in place in 31.7 percent of schools, down from 42.6 on Jan. 19.

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