In march of 2020, students across the San Francisco Bay Area were informed of a two week break due to a COVID-19 outbreak across the world. Unaware of what their future looked like, they rejoiced at the idea of a break from school, and expected a return by April. When online school first started, it was a safer alternative to keep learning from a distance. As May approached, the return date for students was being postponed, and high school seniors were told that they wouldn’t get an in-person high school graduation. The hopes of going back to school seemed dim, and students’ motivation declined. For a little over a year, students of all ages in the San Francisco Bay Area have experienced the challenges of doing school from home. The effects of online school have led to a loss of motivation, social isolation, and depression. While it had been permitted to return to school in September of 2020, the San Francisco teachers union and many other unions around our community have refused to go back in person. Without teachers, the reopening of schools is halted, and students have to endure further isolation.
A Chain Reaction
The numbers shows that the mental health crisis among students in the San Francisco Bay Area is caused by the social isolation of not having in person school. While schools are permitted to open, the teacher union has refused to go back due to health and safety protocols. They claim that until all the teachers are vaccinated, and the eligible students too, they will not return to school. Without teachers in school, students continue online every day, isolated and unmotivated to continue learning.
The impact on the students in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Long term effects
In our abnormal psychology class, we learnt about the long term effects of mental health, including the physical consequences of the illness. Dr. Shaker Saxena from Harvard School of Public Health, and a professor for the practice of global mental health courts remarks that in the United States, two thirds of young adults have symptoms of anxiety, depression, or another serious mental health problem. Following the Covid-19 pandemic, when schools return to the way they were, Dr. Saxena explains that 10% of those who had symptoms will continue to have long lasting effects of their individual mental health issue. Additionally, one thing many people do not realize is that mental illnesses can affect physical well being: “A 2014 study from Oxford University found that several mental illnesses can reduce life expectancy by up to 20 years, the equivalent of heavy smoking.” (Tanner Clinic, January 2020)
During the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s important to understand that the loss of interaction and isolation has caused many mental health issues for students in the Bay Area. While staying at home is important, so is mental health. For each person there will be a different answer, but for the time being, seeing friends, possibly no more than 4 at a time, is a response to help some situations. Staying at home for an appropriate period in between social interactions is recommended, as well as wearing a mask. At a societal level, the best response would be for all schools around the Bay Area to open. Us as students don’t have much power over the school boards, however that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything about it. By spreading information and bringing awareness to the mental health of students in our local communities, we can urge them to open as soon as possible. Sharing our experiences or your childs’ experiences will inspire others to rise up and organize. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I urge you to temporarily withhold from getting vaccinated if you are not an essential worker. Allowing adults who work with students, and eligible students to get vaccinated as soon as possible will allow schools to resume as soon as possible.
As students, remember to look out for those around you as well as yourself. This pandemic has been hard on everyone, and support from others can help in ways someone doesn’t realize. Taking mental health days, seeing friends once in a while, and taking care of ourselves is important. A main goal is to allow students to go back to school, so that long term mental health issues don’t affect the future engines of society. Unfortunately, we can’t fix the damage that has already been done to these young minds, but avoiding many more months of online school is possible.
If you have any questions, comments, or reactions, I invite you to post them down below. Please feel free to introduce different ideas and start a conversation. I also welcome you to submit this google form. Your identity will remain anonymous.Loading…