Returning to school: students opinions and mental health

Anne Russell Kibbe

   In the midst of this global pandemic, students everywhere are learning in different ways. Many articles have covered the questions of, Do parents feel safe with their children going to school? Do teachers feel comfortable on campus? In order to get the point of view of the people most affected, students ages 14 to 19 were surveyed. 

      The results were strongly slanted in the direction of wanting to return to school. Out of 38 responses, 77.8 percent of students said they do not enjoy online learning, 92.1 percent said they want to go back to school, and 89.5 percent said they would feel safe returning to the school building.

   In addition to the survey, I collected some Broughton student quotes on how online learning is affecting them.

     “Online school has been an adjustment because it’s a lot more out of class homework than in class work. I don’t know if I’m a huge fan of it since I miss seeing people!” Weller Maret, sophomore, states.

   “It’s been tough having to look at a screen all day but the workload hasn’t been that bad” junior, Braxton Bond says. 

   “Online school has been challenging at times because I am having to teach myself…because we are online not being able to go see a teacher makes a difference in how the information is understood. But, I do enjoy having only 4 hours in the morning of instructional teaching so that I can have the rest of the day to work on my own.” said senior Trevlyn Roberts.

   These responses show us that students want to be learning in person, and benefit from seeing their peers and teachers. The half day classes provide more time for students to do their work, which is a positive aspect.           

   Many Broughton students have felt their mental health and stability decline whilst being in school online.    

   Research shows that students need to be in a classroom, interacting and learning with their classmates and teachers. Michael Rich, associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, has stated that he’s seen a massive increase in anxiety and depression in students since we have been out of school.    “Increased screen time usage, especially for non-academic activities, has been found to be linked with increases in depression, anxiety and perceived attention problems,” Jennifer Katzenstein, director of psychology and neuropsychology at Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, said. 

   Mental health is worsening, and it is harder for teachers to help struggling students when they cannot interact with them. Broughton teachers have done a great job to make sure students know they are able to talk to someone if needed. Office hours are always helpful and counselors are always a great option if students need to talk to someone.   Using this information from professionals and local students, it is evident that students strongly prefer learning in the classroom, for their mental health and the benefit of academics. With the option of Wake County’s virtual academy for students and teachers who don’t feel comfortable with an in-person school environment, the topic of returning to school is up for discussion. The decision of entering the school building after over 7 months will affect students across the county in many ways.