Essays from Wichita students show remote learning toll on mental health

Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 5:31 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) -The Wichita school district plans to continue bringing more students back into the classroom, starting next week, bringing a sense of relief for many in the state’s largest district. It’s been months since some of the students have learned inside a school building. For some, remote learning has been especially hard on their mental health.

In writing, some Wichita students said they’ve been tired, stressed and event depressed.

“Remote learning has brought a lot of stress and anxiety with it,” a student at one of the district’s high schools wrote. “This semester has been the worst one yet because of how much homework I get from every single class, and I cannot keep up.”

In essays about their experiences, other students wrote about considering dropping out so they can work more, facing added stress with falling behind and hatred of looking at a computer screen “all the time” and not being around friends.

Psychologist Dr. Molly Allen said what these students are going through isn’t normal.

“It’s all a part of the whole culture,” she said. “And when you don’t get to participate in that, you feel like you’ve been plopped onto a whole other planet and it’s not a planet you want to be on either.”

Dr. Allen said parents, teachers and administrators should hear what these students are saying and give them grace.

“Remember what it was like for you. Remember maybe one of the most stressful things that happened to you in high school. That’s what these kids are going through,” she said. “So slow it down and have some compassion for where they’re at.”

The Wichita school district said it will do everything it can to try to help its students.

“Talking to them, checking on them, making sure if they need anything, we give them the right support,” said USD 259 Executive Director for Secondary Schools Brandon Johnson. “Because we have all of those support services within our buildings to make sure that those kids that need anything, they can receive it.”

Students in sixth and 12th grades returned this week and some students in Wichita’s public middle schools and high schools return next week. The school board will meet Monday night (March 8) to discuss how it’s going and if even more students potentially can start to return after Spring Break.

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