How being out of school negatively impacts students in need

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Photo taken by Shalah Russell

Seymone Russell, Editor

Upon hearing the news of an extended break due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many people cheered in their sixth-period classes. As one of these people, I could not imagine any reason a student would be sad after hearing this news. This was until I realized that school, for many students, is much more than a place where you sit at a desk and do classwork. If you think about it, school is our home for five days a week and seven hours a day. There are many facilities students use at school that they don’t have access to at home that some people don’t think about. 

One of these facilities is the lunchroom service. Throughout the year, many students participate in the free or reduced-price lunch program. Whether the reason is a lack of money or the inability to get lunch at home, it is clear that without normal school days, it will be hard for these students to take advantage of this feature. Thankfully, Executive Order number five, declared by J. B. Pritzker, the governor of Illinois, says that although all public and private K-12 schools must close for educational purposes, this will not affect the availability of school buildings to supply food for students in need. An email sent on March 16th by Principal Hector Freytas and Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Instruction Kylie Lindquist states that “All departments are working together to provide support for students in a variety of areas (all content departments, the special education department, the student services department, etc.)”

Another thing that may slip the minds of us sleeping away at home, is the use of our school psychologists by some students. Students, like many other people in this world, may deal with personal problems such as depression, struggle with certain family relationships at home, or have a hard time making decisions for the future. Normally, these students would have access to our school psychologists by either personally seeking them out or being recruited by the psychologists themselves. These counselors also held small groups designed for specific students and their current obstacles. Problems faced by students at home do not just go away without regularly scheduled school days. If these students do not have access to outside therapists, their problems may get worse over time. Especially with the input of social distancing, students with anxiety or other mental illnesses may be negatively affected by the forced solitude. Our school psychologists were very easy to access during the day, were free of charge, and were private. This may be impossible for students to replicate outside of school. 

Believe it or not, the teachers and students that you normally interact with during school days can be helpful for normal functioning. I know you never would have thought that that annoying kid yelling down the hallway could help you in some way but believe it or not, they can. Normal interactions are important for speaking and conversational skills. Without coming in contact with others, it would be hard to improve speech skills. Even high school students can elevate their vocabulary and use this in future interviews and assignments. According to The New York Times article on the importance of social interactions, studies have shown that people who have healthy relationships with friends and their community are happier and have fewer health problems. People who lack social contact are more likely to have higher stress levels and are more likely to suffer from depression. Studies also show that overall people who feel more connected to others are more positive and have higher self-esteem. For some people, school days were their main source of social interactions throughout the day and without this, they may struggle with isolation at home. 

For all students, it is obvious that school itself is important. Education is important for the future in terms of occupations, learning more about the world around us, and functioning in our society. School prepares us for working with others and also supplies us with a daily routine. It may be evident now more than ever that it is harder to get work done without a concrete schedule besides eating, sleeping, and going on some form of social media. 

My main purpose in this article is not to make people feel bad for celebrating this break or being sad over the cancelation of many important life events. It is okay to want to relax after a hard school year. It is also okay to mourn over the loss of exciting events, after all, we are all still human and all feelings/emotions are valid. But, I urge you guys to look outside of yourself and realize that others are suffering too in many different ways. There are people with mental illnesses that are having a hard time, there are health care workers putting themselves at risk to save lives, and there are others that are dying or are watching their loved ones die from the coronavirus. You can be sad over your troubles in life while also still being aware of others. To help others get through these tough times please remember to check on your friends and family members. To help cope with everything yourself you can look to others via cellphone to help you out.