Crisis Center Youth Weigh-in on Returning to School

By Onyourmind Staff

Summer is almost over, and now we are moving into the strange time period of back-to-school during COVID. This presents unique challenges for students and teachers as the pandemic continues to force us to shift how we live our lives. 

As everyone scrambles to find solutions for education, new stressors and issues come to the forefront. Remote learning can create challenges with attention as students interact with a screen for most of their day. Isolation might also be a key issue, as students miss out on in-person peer interaction. With less external structure, some students might struggle with organizing their schedules, or having good boundaries between schoolwork and time off. It also can be disappointing and sad to miss out on rites of passage like school events, holidays, and even graduation for those who left high school this year. Students entering college might not be able to experience dorm living or even leaving home while they attend classes remotely. 

We asked both the Crisis Center’s Teen Chat Peer Counselors and the Health Ambassadors from HAP-Y what they are feeling around going back to school this year. They also impart some tips about what has worked well for them during the transition to remote learning and what this experience has been like as a whole. 

What unique challenges are teens and young adults facing with school right now? 

Due to COVID, teens and young adults are facing an ever-growing challenge in finding activities, jobs, and extra curriculars to do and in addition staying connected with teachers and friends virtually through school. Since most schools are online, many teens may struggle with course management and staying motivated with class and homework being administered at home. Furthermore, since schools are online teens and young adults may be forced into monitoring younger siblings’ schoolwork if both parents or legal guardian must work full time. 

Rachel, 17, Onyourmind Peer Counselor 

Young people are facing the challenge of existing in a COVID-19 world, as well as having to go back to school/ work. With school schedules incorporating face to face interaction with teachers through Zoom, students are going to be on their computers for much longer periods of time. That can interrupt their sleep schedules and mental health. 

Nur, 17, Health Ambassador

Some challenges teens and young adults are facing with school right now include uncertainty and lack of socializing with peers. We are all unsure about how long we will have to attend school virtually. Not having a specific date of when this situation will be over may discourage some students from having any hope of physically attending school soon. We are blessed to have technology that keeps us connected during these troubling times. It still may be challenging for some to feel connected as virtual communication lacks the emotional intimacy of physically being with someone. 

Weilan, 16, Health Ambassador 

How are you feeling about going back to school while COVID is still such a huge issue? 

I feel like going back to school while COVID is such a big issue is concerning. It alarms me that other schools are considering bringing students back to school when they don’t have the funding or complex understanding of the virus that is needed to make sure students are safe. No one knows how schools should handle students and COVID, and yet many schools are making the decision to put students in danger. I feel like if I were to go back to school, I would be scared for my life. Thankfully, my school has decided to do distance learning. My heart goes out to anyone who has to endure in-person school in a time like this. 

Mia, 15, Health Ambassador 

[I’m] neutral, a conflicted feeling since I’ve been working in the school district during the pandemic to help out the community in some way, I’m grateful to be working but it felt very different with feeling depressed and quiet, with how things were different now compare to before. A school full of students and them running to class with each time the bell ring, to then nothing, no sound around the campus, just emptiness, rooms and hallway full of nothing, like a lone survivor alone in the school, possibly around the world. 

Jesus, 23, Health Ambassador 

I don’t think it’s safe enough to go back to school right now, especially in the Bay Area where the number of cases are so high. In addition, I don’t think it’s fair to make the teachers go through so much stress (not to mention put their lives at risk) doing jobs like cleaning and contact tracing, which should have been the government’s job in the first place. 

Anastasia, 17, Health Ambassador 

I feel weird because my classmates will be on the screen of my computer rather than my surroundings. But I like it. 

Jessica, 17, Health Ambassador 

In what ways have your study habits changed because of COVID? 

Since COVID has began, I tend to take more breaks and have a shorter attention span while studying. Being at home is very comfortable, but can also be distracting for me after having to spend long periods in the same spot. 

Leanna, 17, Health Ambassador 

I’ve had to set alarms and reminders for myself because I’m a distracted person, especially when my home is a noisy a lot. 

Karen, 16, Health Ambassador 

Honestly, I am able to study bright and early and have enough sleep. Also have become a bit lazier too. 

Srimaye, 18, Health Ambassador 

I learned to be more organized and time oriented because of Covid. Especially with online classes, professors only give students 1-2 days to finish an assignment. 

Jericho, 20, Health Ambassador 

What is one tip you have for other teens and young adults who are struggling with remote learning or school performance? 

To keep myself on task during virtual school, I like to make myself to do lists and schedules that I stick to throughout the day and have goals I would like to complete by the end of the week so that I’m mostly sticking to a routine schedule and being productive with my time. 

Rachel, 17, Onyourmind Peer Counselor 

Talk [to] and email your counselors/teachers if you need help. You’re not alone and be sure to take it seriously. 

John, 17, Health Ambassador 

I think one tip to remember is that everyone is going through the same thing. If you can’t get an assignment done, or your anxiety has been through the roof because of COVID, it’s important to remember that we are in a pandemic, and you are allowed to take mental health breaks. Especially now, with the amount of online interaction and zoom fatigue (which is real!), it’s important to take mental health breaks, step away from the screen, and relax. We will get through this together. 

Mia, 15, Health Ambassador 

Create a schedule and stick with it. It’s super easy to get caught up in all work and procrastinate. However, a daily routine and dedicated blocks of time can make the work seem manageable. Lastly, remote learning is hard in a variety of ways so don’t feel bad if adjusting takes time. 

Maddy, 19, Health Ambassador 

Study at the park!! Or near your high school to connect to their Wi-Fi! 

Caitlin, 18, Health Ambassador 

What helps you feel more connected to your friends, classmates, and teachers? 

Knowing that we are all going through this time together helps me feel better about the situation that we are in. As a current senior in high school, I will miss the full experiences of senior year, so I hope that there will be some virtual events to help keep us connected. 

Leanna, 17, Health Ambassador 

Being the social person I am, just texting or emailing makes me feel connected to them still. 

John, 17, Health Ambassador

Video calls make me feel more connected with my friends, classmates, and teachers. It is the closest I have to in-person communication with my friends. Because many of us cannot see our friends, classmates, and teachers every day, it doesn’t hurt to reach out and check up on a friend. Sending a message to someone to ask them how they are doing might help brighten up their day. It takes all of us to stay connected and care for our community, even if we are physically apart. 

Weilan, 16, Health Ambassador 

Frequent calls, going on social media, and having socially distanced meetings with friends. I also feel a lot less alone when my teachers send videos instead of just giving us notes. 

Anastasia, 17, Health Ambassador 

I guess communication, though I’m well balance of being indoor and outdoor, probably once awhile reach out to someone that you missed or never thought you surprise with a message, it a comfort way to know that it’s nice to reconnect with old friends. 

Jesus, 23, Health Ambassador 

If you have any tips that have helped you with adjusting to school during COVID, let us know in the comments below! 

If you are feeling super stressed about school, need to vent, or want to talk further, come chat with one of our peer counselors or call the Crisis Center hotline at (650) 579-0350.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *