By Glenn Jr. M.
After the quarantine of 2020-2021, how did you feel when you came back into school? Did you feel sad or excited when you came back? Is social learning at school just as important as academics?
I personally believe that schools should strive to stay in person due to how the learning structure is built into schools.
From my perspective, having to go through a whole school year during quarantine felt like an eternity. Although I was moving forward in classes, my social life took a backseat. I disliked having to barely show your face on-screen during online classes and having those teachers not even know what you look like when you come back physically. I felt depressed; I slowly realized that I was a social person, however, at the same time, I was isolated in this one room of my house.
What has to be taken into consideration if we are switching to virtual school is the thought of the students’ education. Sure, switching to virtual school may reduce the number of Omicron cases, but a flaw in this idea is that you have to take into account the student’s mental health.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic did not just have socioeconomic impacts but has also increased mental health degradation worldwide. In an article written by Maya E. Rao and Dhananjai M. Rao, they discuss the topic of mental health during the pandemic. They state, “The American Psychological Association (APA) reports that nearly 81% of Gen Z teens Gen Z teens (ages 13–17) experience more intense stress due to COVID-19, associated with schooling.”
The way they have conducted this experiment was by using a survey-based approach in which their target demographic were students. The study brought up a broad range of stressors, mainly those that correlated with high school students. The results of this study show that there has been a significant degradation in mental health of students during the pandemic. Moreover, factors such as gender, homework time, school time, pre-existing mental health issues and therapy did not have a significant influence on mental health degradation. But recurring themes that did come up most often were stress due homework, social isolation, lack of social interaction and lack of support for mental wellbeing.
According to an article by Christina Munoz which was related to the concern of students’ mental health during the pandemic, she states, “Virtual remote learning for most students has also meant a disruption to their social lives with friends and peers in the school setting.”
While students learn virtually there is little to no socialization with friends and peers, throughout the school day there are feelings of isolation for students. As well as adding to less social interactions for students there is an added layer of fear due to contracting COVID-19, as for the outcome of quarantine there has been a drastic increase in depression rates among young adults.
The structure of in-person learning benefits the student more so than having to switch to virtual school. In a traditional classroom setting a student may feel more comfortable with understanding the teacher or other classmates in this sort of environment. The sudden switch to virtual school may lead towards a lack of motivation on the student’s end.
After the experience of having to switch to virtual learning for one whole year of school, the experience felt as if there was no progress being made in any class. According to Christina Munoz in an article on the mental health implications of virtual learning of students, she states, “Students also struggle to maintain authentic engagement with their peers and instructors during the school day. A Texas Education Agency (TEA) report found that 11% of the state student population (more than 600,000 public school students) were disengaged from their classwork or unresponsive to teacher and school outreach (2020).”
Due to schools having to switch to online learning there have been less social interactions, affecting students’ attention and interest in school in general. Having interactions between students and teachers being stuck to a virtual standpoint has greatly affected the students’ relationship with their learning.
Others may say that it’s a better idea to have school learning to be taught virtually while a virus is spreading throughout populated spaces.
While this may be a popular decision, there may be negative outcomes that follow the shutdown of schools. While schools are shutting down and switching to a virtual learning platform, there may be effects of isolation towards students, anxiety or may cause another increase in depression for young adults.
As of what is shown from the past quarantine we are not ready/prepared to switch to an immediate lockdown for learning virtually. Schools should not just think of the implication of learning toward students but should also think of students’ mental health.
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