The Charter News
The switch from in-person learning to distance learning during the pandemic has negatively impacted some students’ mental health and made teaching PE and music classes difficult.
The school system tries its best to help students with their mental health. According to JAMA Pediatrics, “An analysis of the 2012 to 2015 NSDUH (National Survey of Drug Use and Health) found that among all adolescents who used any mental health services in the year, 57 percent received some school-based mental health services.” However, “since all the schools have been shut down it has been difficult for school systems to help students with their mental health,” said Alicia Heinsoo, ACA’s Student Support Specialist.
There have been ways that schools have been attempting to reach out to students.
For example, ACA has been helping in three ways: having clubs for all grade levels to help students talk about issues, and students are able to contact a school support specialist if students have any mental health concerns. The third thing “students can do is ask to talk to the Educational Specialist (ES) if it’s been difficult to transfer from classroom to online,” said Carly Carruthers, a teacher and ES.
Transferring from classroom to online school has affected students and teachers alike. Both have been affected by having to learn how to use new technology and having to learn in a different environment. According to Mrs. Carruthers, teachers are having trouble seeing what students are struggling with since they are not able to walk around the classroom. Also when the students’ cameras are off, it’s difficult to see the students’ expression, whether they understand the subject, or if they need more help. Another struggle is “having personal connections with students because their interaction is all online,” said Jonathan Cheskin, music and technology teacher.
A challenge for some students is “trying to stay focused while looking through a computer screen,” said 10th-grade student Jared Lopez. Also, because students are just in their own homes, “it’s easier to miss or be late to class because it doesn’t feel like you’re actually at school,” he added.
Another tough thing about online school is “the interactive and physical classes like Music and PE. There are technical issues on both ends, it’s difficult to do group performance, and it’s difficult for the teachers to show students the proper techniques,” said Cheskin. For Physical Education, “it is difficult for some students to find space and people to exercise with,” said 10th-grade student Cole Smythe.
But there are also benefits. For teachers, “It’s easier to keep things organized and not have to worry about losing things because they’re all online in files,” said Carruthers. She also noted that not having to commute is a benefit.
Some students are OK with online school. “I’m honestly enjoying online school. It’s less stressful and more relaxing,” said Lopez.
Teachers and students are putting in the effort to make online school work. Everyone interviewed is hoping to be back to onsite classes next school year, but there are some who have enjoyed online school and would like it to continue.
“It will be interesting to see how long online school will last and how much online school will influence teaching in the future,” said Carruthers.
Carruthers, Carly. Personal interview. 13 Jan 2021
Cheskin, Jonathan. Personal interview. 11 Jan 2021
Ezra Golberstein, (PhD University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Division of Health Policy and Management, Minneapolis), Hefei Wen, (PhD Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Department of Population Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts), Benjamin F. Miller, (PsyD Well Being Trust, Oakland, California) https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2764730 Accessed 22 Jan. 2021
Heinsoo, Alicia. Personal interview. 10 Dec 2020
Lopez, Jared. Personal interview. 22 Jan. 2021
Smythe, Cole. Personal interview. 22 Jan. 2021