#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek - Will life return to normal now that Coronavirus vaccines are available? Probably not.
Yes, people will return to work, businesses will continue to reopen, and students will go back to school.
However, the pandemic will have ripple effects that may continue to be seen for years.
That’s going to be especially clear within the student population.
This is something that educators must be prepared to face.
More Than a Billion Students Were Kept Out of School
Students may be returning to school now, but Covid-19 related shut-downs led to more than a billion students being impacted by school closures.
This affected students from early learners all the way through the tertiary level.
As a result, teachers and others must be prepared to deal with effects that are spread across the student population.
Anxiety And Depression Have Been a Common Experience
The pandemic has been a universally traumatizing experience. Many students have reported feeling anxious, depressed, even angry. In many cases, these feelings may not subside, simply because things return to normal.
Educators must be prepared to do the following:
- Adjust expectations for returning students as mental health struggles can impact learning and cognition.
- Be vigilant in looking for signs of serious mental health issues.
- Advocate for students and help ensure that services are accessible.
Social Isolation Impacts Development Learning And Behavior
Learning, social development, and self-management skills are all things that are influenced by connection with others. Younger students learn from interactions with one another and often use their peers as examples of socially appropriate behavior. Teachers and other specialists can observe social interactions to gain significant insights into their students. Most importantly, socialization drives learning and maturity.
For more than a year, students have had very little in-person interaction with their peers, in many cases non. Further, they’ve also been denied normal contact with family members and others living outside their homes.
All of this is likely to impact learning readiness, self-control, and maturity. Students may seem behind as they haven’t had the benefits of social connection on their development.
Even With The Best Efforts Students May Have Fallen Behind
Some students may return to school academically on track. Others may range from mildly behind to significantly delayed. The truth is that students function differently under various learning conditions. Because of this, even if a student may have received the best possible instruction with significant educational support, they could still be struggling. Things that were once expected of students entering specific levels may be unrealistic now.
Of course, the above is true for students who don’t struggle with any sort of learning difficulty. For students that do have these struggles, the pandemic may have been absolutely devastating. That’s something that schools will need to be prepared to address. It may be helpful for students to be directed to learning resources such as tutoring, study assistance via Cleverrup, and other additional help.
Many Students Dealt With Stress And Dysfunction in The Home
School isn’t just a place of learning. For many students, it is also a safe haven. When home life is dysfunctional and chaotic, time spent in school creates a sense of normalcy and safety. Students who have lost this because of the pandemic are likely to be more traumatized. This is especially true when parents were struggling with mental health issues prior to Covid-19.
That said, teachers shouldn’t assume that students living in healthy environments haven’t also been impacted. Students living in functional environments have likely witnessed parental stress and experienced upheaval as well.
Many have claimed that things are returning to normal. For students, that’s not necessarily true. The sad truth is that students, teachers, parents, and others will be dealing with the long-reaching impacts of Coronavirus for quite some time.
Hopefully, a combination of resources and empathy will help everyone navigate the upcoming challenges.