Op-ed: Lincoln needs to do more to support students’ mental health

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Kenzie Ward

Students’ mental health has struggled significantly during the pandemic, writes Grace Pixton.

“Take care of yourself.”

“Your mental health is our top priority.”

“Stay healthy and safe.”

Included in the hundreds of emails that are flooding student inboxes are a cacophony of well wishes from teachers and staff.

“Mental health supports are always on the forefront of our minds at [Lincoln],” writes Vice Principal Christopher Brida in an email to Lincoln students and parents. “This year, students are likely also grieving the loss of normalcy and in person school. As a staff, we have been thinking about how to better support students this year.”

Though the Lincoln administration wants to address the issue of mental health, many students still feel a lack of support from the school, and their own mental health is suffering because of it.

I consider myself to be a good student and a hard worker, but with so many assignments piling up in Canvas and confusion surrounding scheduling and classes, online school has become overwhelming and stressful.

Savana Kenney and Camilla Correani are freshmen this year. The transition from middle school to high school is already a difficult one for many students, and online school presents many challenges that are negatively affecting members of the freshman class.

“The workload can be a little much,” says Correani. “I think that the teachers forget about all the other classes sometimes. They think that because we are online we have way more free time, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Kenney agrees.

“Each teacher is giving way more work, on top of having us learn each of their synchronous and asynchronous schedules,” says Kenney.

The chaos of online school is also negatively impacting students’ sanity.

“[My mental health] has gotten tremendously worse,” says Kenney. “Not being able to see people in person is so hard for me because I love talking and sharing with others. [Teachers] try to understand where we’re coming from, but they also act like we’re full-grown adults and that we are okay without seeing our friends all the time,” says Kenney.

I myself, feel a lack of support from my teachers and from the Lincoln community. At the beginning of the school year, I was feeling hopeful. After processing the disappointment that I would not be having the typical senior year experience, I felt prepared to put my efforts into online school.

In some classes, I feel like I am repeating the same assignment over and over again. In others, I feel as though I am walking blind, working on projects with no clear instructions from teachers.”

My teachers claimed that they were taking our mental health into consideration and, while some made good on that sentiment, many piled on an overwhelming amount of assignments in the weeks that followed.

Correani does not feel like her teachers follow through on their claim to support students’ needs.

“I feel like they talk about mental health and then just add a bunch of assignments for you to do and then don’t want to hear excuses,” adds Correani.

Lincoln seniors are experiencing many of the same issues and, with added stress from college applications, are overwhelmed and stressed.

Senior Mila Bush, like many, is trying to balance the process of college applications with online school.

“I ask for help [from teachers],” says Bush, “but with the deadlines coming too quickly and the communication being through email, it is quite hard to get the help I need when I need [it].”

Balancing the application process with the large workload that many students are receiving can be difficult.

“The workload for my classes is a lot of busywork,” says Bush.

As a senior myself who is applying to college, investing time in internships and volunteer work, and participating in extracurriculars once again, the last thing on my mind is the ample amount of busywork that is being piled on me. In some classes, I feel like I am repeating the same assignment over and over again. In others, I feel as though I am walking blind, working on projects with no clear instructions from teachers.

Students have suggestions for how to improve the online learning experience. Though many realize that teachers are doing the best they can given the circumstances, they also have ideas on how to better organize the system.

“It would be nice to have all the teachers on the same plan instead of all of them counting attendance in different ways,” says Correani. “They shouldn’t automatically use assignments for attendance because I turned one in a couple hours late and was marked absent, which added to loads of stress.”

Kenney agrees that there needs to be more communication between teachers.

“I wish that teachers would be on the same page with work and schedules instead of just loading tons of work on us with an insane schedule,” adds Kenney.

Bush agrees that there are better ways to format online school.

“It would be a lot better if there was more structure to asynchronous time,” says Bush. “I’d prefer if I didn’t get marked absent for asynchronous periods I’ve attended.”

The affinity groups offered by teachers following election day are a great example of the activities that Lincoln students want to see more of, including myself. However, when it comes to the formatting of online school, I feel that there are things that need to change. For example, if teachers were able to streamline the way they format canvas so that they were all using a similar system, It would make things much clearer for students, myself included.

Lincoln students have ideas. They have opinions. Many recognize that the current school system is not beneficial for them and are pleading with the administration to consider their struggles. The student body wants to see a plan of action.

“Quarantine was already really difficult without having human interaction,” says Correani. “School just added to that stress. These are some hard times.”

 

 

 

 

 

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