As vaccinations have been ramping up, schools in the United States are preparing to re-open full-time in-person classes in the fall of 2021. However, a survey has revealed that the majority of teenagers are anxious about coming back to class.
The poll, conducted by Navigate 360 and John Zogby Strategies, showed that 54 percent of students between the ages of 16 and 17 are not prepared to return to the classroom. In comparison, only 31 percent said they do not feel anxious about resuming traditional in-person classes.
Some 304 students answered the survey online on March 25, while another survey involving 1,005 adults was also facilitated on the same day. While the teens expressed anxiety about coming back, at least 58 percent of the adults said they felt optimistic about the students returning to in-person classes in the fall.
Anxiety and Social Pressures
The study also showed that the teenagers' anxieties stem from social pressures and bullying in school. Of the students polled, 59 percent said that they are aware of a peer who has thought about suicide or self-harm, while 49 percent said they had been bullied for their sexual orientation, race, and family income status. On the other hand, 34 percent of the adults surveyed have confidence that teenagers can handle the social pressures in school.
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The students also felt less confident than the adults in handling emergency incidents, especially in life-threatening situations while on the school premises.
At least 52 percent of the teen respondents said that they want school curriculums to focus on their social and emotional health and deliver essential training to develop their life skills.
Hasten Academic Recovery
As education experts said, a return to in-person classes is necessary to hasten the students' academic recovery following the COVID-19 crisis. Many kids have not only fallen behind in their school work, but a return to classes could also help address the social and emotional fallout of virtual learning. Some students thrive in the flexibility of online learning, but there are also kids whose learning experience changed drastically due to the remote classes.
"There's no replacement for in-person learning," Department of Education acting assistant deputy secretary Ian Rosenblum told USA Today following the release of a $122 billion COVID-19 recovery funding to help schools re-open or to continue their operations in the virtual environment.
However, some parents and experts are not entirely sold on putting the kids back to school without a clear plan.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said in an interview with CNBC that school re-opening could become "vectors of these new variants" as students have yet to get their COVID-19 vaccine.
He added that while the risk of fatality is lower among students, virus transmission could become an epidemic in schools.
"Smart schools are going to start the school year with some form of mitigation until they figure out which way this goes," Gottlieb said.
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