Schools are back online – what does this mean for students’ health?
January 10, 2022
This seems familiar, doesn’t it? On January 3rd, 2022 the Ontario provincial government announced that schools will be closed for an additional two weeks, as the Covid-19 cases have skyrocketed thanks to the Omicron variant. With schools being closed, classes have now been moved virtually, something all students have experienced time and time again. But how does this state of uncertainty and virtual school affect students’ mental health?
Students were first introduced to online school back at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, in March 2020, and were online up until the end of the school year. Schools had then reopened the following September, but were once again closed in February 2021 as the Covid cases had risen. Furthermore, students also experienced the drastic switch during the last quadmester of the said school year. The constant switching isn’t anything new, however, its familiarity does not mean students don’t experience its consequences.
Avery Farrell, a grade 10 student at RH King expressed her unease, stating, “Not seeing friends and other students daily feels quite isolating, especially since there isn’t much outside of school that is allowed.” For many students, being online restricts them from being able to socialize with their peers in between and within classes, and it can damage their mental health in the process. On a similar note, grade 10 student Diana Balko feels that the change in environments leads to a lack of concentration and focus. “Being at home and in my room trying to do virtual school is difficult, and it’s not something I can get used to, no matter how many times I experience it.” Being at home and in an environment that’s typically associated with rest and relaxation can lead to distractions and a lack of motivation to focus on schoolwork. This can lead to plummeting school marks as a student gets lazy with their drive for school and turns to things such as phones and other distractions. The feeling of uncertainty and not knowing when a student will be able to go back to school, as provincial announcements lack the information, can also be stressful and deteriorate mental health.