Excerpts

Fear and Learning in America

In 2020, the COVID‐19 pandemic hit the United States and shut the country as near to down as our capitalistic society would allow.  Yet, despite a continually increasing number of cases, that August a bunch of school districts and universities decided that they would reopen for the 2020–2021 school year, even with the flu season being just around the corner and the virus being in no way under control.

This was an absolutely awful decision which medical professionals widely decried and which naturally sent fear through the hearts of a great many teenagers.  As the premier magazine covering teen issues, Teen Vogue ran a series of articles covering the response to schools reopening from a youth perspective.

This is some real shit.  I’ve captured selected quotations and coverage below, and provided links to the full articles.  If you know of any other (good) reporting regarding this issue, feel free to send it my way.

Identity

How to Stay Healthy Going Back to School During the Coronavirus Pandemic

By Ella Ceron  |    |  how-to-stay-healthy-back-to-school-coronavirus @ Teen Vogue

If your school isn’t being forthright about that information, reach out to your district’s office for further information, and hold them accountable until you receive details that affirm their commitment to your health.  And as [E. Susan] Amirian [PhD, an epidemiologist at Rice University in Houston, Texas] pointed out, you are absolutely justified in doing so:  “As a student, you should feel empowered to voice your concerns to your school and ask them to provide responses to these concerns,” she said.  “Students need to join the conversation that has largely been dominated in the media by adults, like politicians, medical experts, parents, school administrators, and teachers.”

“Before, if somebody had the sniffles or a cough, I know that students would just suck it up and go to class,” she [Natasha Bhuyan MD, a family physician at One Medical in Phoenix, Arizona] said, stressing that being marked “absent” is a far better option than potentially infecting other people.  “Anyone that has fever, even runny nose, cough, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches—all of those could be symptoms of COVID. So it’s important to stay at home and make sure that you have access to testing.”

Bhuyan was careful to note that you should still find creative ways to socialize with classmates and friends, because that can be key in maintaining your mental health during the pandemic.  “High school and college are going to look different, but I still want students to stay connected with each other in creative ways,” she said.  “That might be making sure that you reach out to people that have similar interests as you, making sure that you’re still staying engaged in clubs and activities, and maybe meeting over zoom or meeting outdoors and six feet apart, but still taking opportunities to stay social and stay connected and to pay attention to your mental health.

Politics

Amid Coronavirus, College Students Prepare for Lonely Fall Semester

By Sarah Emily Baum  |    |  college-students-coronavirus-social-life @ Teen Vogue

For those who aren’t generally supported by the youth vote, that power makes us a threat.  Black Lives Matter protesters, many of whom are in their teens and 20s, have been arrested for challenging the status quo.  Young people, who make up a disproportionate number of renters and service workers, have received little assistance from elected officials.  This is an election year, and if members of the largest and most progressive voting bloc are in jail, or don’t have a home address to get a government ID, or can’t get a mail‐in ballot, or can’t afford a bus ticket to the polls, or are too sick to move, or are dead, then they won’t be able to march, organize, or vote.

Politics

Schools Are Enforcing Dress Codes During Online Classes

By Mary Retta  |    |  schools-zoom-dress-code @ Teen Vogue

Emily, a student at Franklinton High School in North Carolina who asked to use a pseudonym, says she is also expected to adhere to a dress code during remote learning.  She tells Teen Vogue that educators have made it clear during Zoom “Meet the Teacher” events that students cannot attend class in pajamas or while in bed, and are instead expected to come to class with a level of professionalism.  Emily finds these guidelines confusing.

“The new dress code policy is considerably more vague than our typical dress code, which is very strict and enforced harshly,” she says.  “Waking up to attend online school is hard enough, and putting on a ‘professional’ outfit just takes longer.  We are teenagers and are required to be at school, so why make it even more difficult to be there?

Emily’s sentiment is shared by many people who find dress codes in general to be biased against poor students, female students, and students of color, and the issue has become a particular flashpoint with the increased reliance on remote learning due to the pandemic.  Prohibiting students from attending class while in bed, for example, could easily disadvantage low-income students who do not have their own bedroom or desk where they can take classes every day.  At Uncommon Charter High School in Brooklyn, New York, students say that administrators emailed the student body at the onset of the pandemic with a dress code specific for remote learning that explicitly banned headscarves and durags, both commonly worn by nonwhite students.

“During standardized testing, we were forced to have our cameras on and to be ‘appropriately’ dressed or our scores would be invalidated for fear of cheating,” Justin, a Black Uncommon Charter student who asked to only use his first name, tells Teen Vogue.  “I personally was told to take my hood off by a teacher during a test since they wanted all of our faces to be on camera.”

Alicia, another student at Uncommon Charter, tells Teen Vogue that, in her experience, the dress code has not been harshly enforced by teachers, but it has been by the deans and principal, who have occasionally popped in to remote classes to observe.  “They would tell people that wore something ‘inappropriate’ to take it off or stop their video,” she says.  “If they didn’t change, they would [receive] a ‘cyber send out’ [that would kick them out of the Zoom,] which prevented many from getting information and help for our assignments.  This created a space in which people would stay off the camera in classes, which made our teachers upset.

According to Alicia, students were also told they could not be seen on camera eating, chewing gum, or leaving the frame to use the bathroom or speak to family members during exams.

Politics

Students Are Sharing Photos of Crowds, Lack of Masks as Schools Reopen

By Mary Retta  |    |  schools-punishing-students-photos-crowds-coronavirus @ Teen Vogue

On the first day of school at North Paulding High School in Paulding County, Georgia, students walked down crowded hallways, many of them not wearing masks despite the ongoing COVID‐19 pandemic.  After the images went viral, at least two students told BuzzFeed News they were suspended for posting them.  According to an audio clip posted to Twitter, alleging to be an announcement from the principal of North Paulding High School, students were cautioned against sharing “anything that’s going on social media that’s in a negative light without permission, that’s photography, that’s video,” and adding that “there will be consequences for those students or anyone who sent out those pictures.”

The school has done the bare minimum to prevent against COVID through social distancing,” another North Paulding student, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Teen Vogue.  [...]

According to this student, the administration is telling students to not post photos from campus and has told students that doing so could result in a suspension.  The student also said that teachers have been told to watch for people taking photos and report them to the administration.

This pattern is playing out in other school environments across the country.  Students anxious about what they say are unsafe conditions on campus told Teen Vogue that administrators seem more concerned about controlling the press or doing damage control than protecting the health of students, staff, and teachers.  They say they’re also stressed that they could become the target of harassment from their fellow students or from the public if they’re revealed as the source of any incriminating photos.

The student [from Woodstock High School in Cherokee County] noted that though Woodstock has not outright banned posting photos from campus, he is still afraid of backlash from his school should the administration find out he took photos that went viral.  “While I don’t regret taking the photos, I’m also terrified of getting in trouble because of them,” he said. “It took tremendous emotional turmoil for me to be able to post those. I had a panic attack on the bus on the way home after school because I was so scared I was going to lose my scholarship and be suspended from school, and I’m not even going to mention how infuriated my parents would be.  However, I felt it was important enough to take the risk.

Many students feel like they are in an impossible position: forced into unsafe conditions on campus and punished if they dare to speak out.“I’m terrified,” said Lucy, the North Paulding student who posted the audio clip.  “Last night, my nerves were so bad that I could barely eat, and even now I feel sick with anxiety.I don’t see anything wrong with what I did, but if I’m found out, I know the school won’t see it the same.  But I want awareness.  I refuse to let my fear silence me, because that’s just what the school wants.”

Politics

Some Students Can No Longer Afford College Because of the Pandemic

By Fortesa Latifi  |    |  cant-afford-school-coronavirus-pandemic @ Teen Vogue

But then the pandemic broke out, and her parents, who work as a house cleaner and a construction worker, both saw their work dry up.  Suddenly, Alexis was the only person working in her household, and it was up to her to take care of expenses for her parents and two teenage sisters.  Then, on April 1, she was let go from her job as a preschool teacher for a nonprofit school serving homeless children.  Her health insurance disappeared overnight, as did her family’s only source of income.

Alexis, who asked to withhold her last name to speak candidly, said these stresses made her grow up quickly.  She spent hours on the phone trying to negotiate a discount for her family’s cell service.  She mapped out food banks to visit, and when her aunt received a couple of pounds of carrots, she looked up recipes to make use of them.  She budgeted for gas and bills and groceries.  She helped her mom explain the situation to her younger sisters, telling them that they would have to wait to get new shoes or go to a thrift store.  She worried about the homeless children she had taught at the nonprofit preschool—if she was struggling, how were they doing?  She and the other teachers had been the ones making sure those children ate.

Looking toward the fall, Alexis isn’t sure what she’s going to do about school.  She’s weighing scraping together financial aid and loans to finish the last semester of her associate’s degree, or trying to find a full‐time job to help her family, in an economy where millions are unemployed.[...]

“I don’t have enough financial aid for the fall semester,” she said.  “It’s like a quilt with holes in it.  You want it to cover everything but it doesn’t.”

Dr. Grace Kao, a professor of sociology at Yale University, tells Teen Vogue that the people who suffer the most during an upheaval like the novel coronavirus pandemic are “people in the most precarious situations, like first‐generation students and first-generation Americans.”

One of the reasons for that, says Kao, is that minorities and working‐class people are more likely to have lost their jobs or had their hours significantly reduced.  And they’re more likely to work jobs that put them at a higher risk for contracting the lethal virus.

Another issue, according to Kao, is that if a student takes a leave of absence from school, they are statistically less likely to graduate.

After taking time off, Emma [a 20‐year‐old from California who also asked that her last name not be used] was ready to return to school this summer, but when the pandemic hit, her hours at Starbucks were cut from 35 per week to just 10 to 15 per week.  Her paychecks weren’t enough to cover her bills, let alone pay for school, but she was able to sign up for a summer class with money from the federal stimulus check.  With the rest of the money, she paid for fall classes, but now she’s unsure if she’ll be able to pay for books and supplies.  After bills each month, she estimates that she has $10 left over.

“I’m really ready to keep pursuing my goals but I don’t know if that’s going to happen anymore,” Emma said.  “I finally got the ball rolling again and now it’s just a screeching halt.”

Politics

The College Experience Myth Is Unrealistic, Puts Pressure on Students

By Rainesford Stauffer  |    |  college-experience-expectations-students @ Teen Vogue

It’s easy to scapegoat the pressure to return to campus as FOMO, but the college experience is not presented as purely academic:  It’s marketed as a four‐year crash course in identity formation, lifelong memories of sharing late‐night pizza with friends, and laying the foundations of your life.  For a lot of students, that may be the case.  But access to this experience has never been equitable, taking into account the cost of college systemic inequity that’s embedded in institutions of higher learning.

“One of the things I think that people miss in this conversation about young people, and why this is such a significant disruption, even if it would be just a couple of months, is that when you go to college, there’s almost an expectation from the beginning that you know what you’re doing,” Jessi Gold, M.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis who specializes in college mental health, medical education, and physician wellness, tells Teen Vogue.  That doesn’t just mean what you’re studying, but that you’re moving forward each semester, toward your degree, then toward the job that awaits you on the other side of graduation.  Disrupting that plan, Gold says, can feel like a sense of loss, almost as if students are grieving their sense of purpose, and their entire future.  For some, it’s a plan their entire lives have revolved around building—one they’ve worked jobs and taken out loans to make a reality.

People just assume that they’re being whiny, or assume that they can’t handle stress like the older generation or whatever,” Gold says.  “It has nothing to do with that. It is that we told them that this is how you do things, and then when you don’t do things that way, it’s like you messed up their whole life plan, as opposed to a couple months.”

Often, college is projected as a pass or fail:  You either had the significant college experience, or you didn’t.  There’s little attention paid to the nuance, including students who always took classes online, work full‐time while in school, or take time away from college.  It’s the same way people assume that all students want to return to campus in order to party, when many students actually rely on their campuses for safe housing, Wi‐Fi, and access to health care.  There are students who will be encouraged to return to campus, only to find themselves without housing if their school shuts down; a spring 2020 report from the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice found that 41% of students at four‐year institutions were experiencing housing insecurity at the time they were surveyed, and 44% of students at two‐year colleges and 38% at four‐year colleges reported experiencing food insecurity.

That’s part of the “college experience” that still doesn’t get mentioned enough.  For many students, it’s not as simple as just learning from home or taking some time off until things go back to normal.

“College students do want to be around their friends,” she [Jennifer Sanchez, a 21‐year‐old first‐generation senior who will be taking a combination of online and in‐person classes at New York University] added.  “They want to be around their support system, which isn’t always their parents or their family.”

Identity

The Mental Health Toll of Going Back to School During a Pandemic

By Will Kubzansky  |    |  mental-health-back-to-school-during-pandemic @ Teen Vogue

When I thought about going back to school this fall, I couldn’t help but remember those last few weeks at school, when my anxiety spiraled out of control and engulfed every part of my life.  As students begin their return to college campuses across the country, the ever‐increasing numbers of us who live with mental illnesses could face an unthinkable challenge in an environment already poorly equipped to help students cope with their mental health.

“It’s harder and harder to control the virus at the city and local government level,” [Shweta] Bansal [an Associate Professor of Biology at Georgetown University] said.  “Campuses are miniature cities with intense social connections—even the best laid plans are unlikely to succeed in preventing outbreaks.

Colleges have fixated on sanitation and virtual classes, but many have largely glossed over what a return means for their students’ mental health, even when they aren’t sick.  While stores and schools lead the charge into quasi‐normalcy, stressed shelf‐stockers and kindergarten teachers who are preparing wills are bearing the mental burden.  Why do we expect college students to feel any different navigating a deeply uncertain fall?

[...]

Karestan Koenen, a professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, explained that every college should also “have a plan for students’ emotional health, just like a plan for physical health.”  That includes plugging the gaps that often plague student mental health services and making students aware of their availability.  While students with existing mental health issues are “the most at‐risk,” the way institutions react to an outbreak could affect every student’s long‐term mental health, Koenen added.

And, schools could face mental health issues not always common on college campuses.  Sarah Berger, the director of Capital Psychological Services in Maryland, pointed out that while risk mitigation is necessary for college students on campus, so is some form of socialization.  She said she fears students might “withdraw socially,” allowing their mental illness to “spiral further, to the point where it’s harder to treat.”

Politics

How Colleges Are Responding to COVID Should Inform Prospective Students

By Sabine Poux  |    |  how-colleges-responding-covid-prospective-students @ Teen Vogue

While prospective students are often attuned to the political demographics of a college or university, few think about how a school administration’s ethics can affect its staff, students, host cities, and environment.

“Probably the most important thing you can do when you’re looking at a school right now is figure out how they are communicating to students, or not communicating with students,” said Katie Felten, a recent graduate of Davidson College and an analyst for Davidson’s College Crisis Initiative, a project that is tracking and documenting colleges’ closing and reopening plans.

Whether you’re determining how many credits you need to graduate or where your school stands in the “free speech” wars, you’ll want your college administrators to be forthcoming with relevant information.  It’s not always easy to know what this looks like in practice—it took me years as an editor at my student newspaper to get a sense of how my college stacked up against others on the transparency front.

Easily accessible FAQ pages aimed at faculty and staff, like those maintained by the University of Texas at Austin, are telltale signs that administrators are thinking about their employees when they’re putting policies in place, which is crucially important as threats of layoffs and furloughs loom large.

Schools can also support their communities by leaving room for individuals to address their specific needs.  Are there alternative plans for immunocompromised students, staff, and faculty? Housing options for international students?  Adequate meals for vegan and vegetarian students stuck in quarantine?  Ways for student athletes to opt out of their seasons, if they’re still having seasons at all?

It bears mentioning that schools don’t exist in vacuums—surrounding communities are already bracing for the return of thousands of students.  And how schools navigate this transition can speak volumes about their relationships with local officials.  The mayors of Somerville and Medford, Massachusetts, for example, are asking Tufts University to rethink its opening plan, a conflict that resembles previous clashes between the school and surrounding localities.

Conversely, Massachusetts’s Smith College in Northampton recently pivoted to a fully remote semester, citing “a civic duty to the communities in which we live and work” as a reason for doing so.

Another suggestion:  “Look at the school’s newspaper and see what pieces are being put out,” said Maddie Buitendorp, another College Crisis Initiative analyst and Davidson junior.

Student journalists have been hard at work holding their institutions accountable this spring and summer, and op‐eds and letters to the editor illuminate how students are reacting and responding to their schools’ policies.  This March, reporters vigilantly covered how their universities allegedly neglected the needs of staff and international students, laying bare the ways in which administrators were failing their communities.  Make it part of your college‐decision practice to read these pieces—they say a lot that you won’t find in brochures and on tours.

Politics

K–12 Schools Are Facing a Devastating Funding Crisis

By Zach Schermele  |    |  k-12-schools-funding-crisis @ Teen Vogue

A decade after the 2008 financial crisis, K–12 education still hasn’t fully recovered.  State funding still lags well behind prerecession levels in at least seven states, and has been sluggish to recover nationwide.  The nationwide teacher head count in March was still tens of thousands less than before the recession, and evidence suggests that the Great Recession of 2007–2009 disproportionately impacted high‐poverty districts and, by extension, their most vulnerable students.

A similar story is likely to play out with this new recession.

Although certain school districts tend to rely on federal aid to a greater extent during recessions, as they did in the aftermath of 2008, state legislators and local school board leaders generally have a much stronger grip on school purse strings.  The latest available data for the 2016–2017 school year from the National Center for Education Statistics shows the bulk of annual funds for K–12 education comes from two main sources (on average):  Forty‐seven percent from state sources, and 45% from local sources.  The federal government coughs up only about 8%.

When districts collect money locally, they often rely primarily on property taxes: a relatively stable source of revenue even during economic downturns.  This dependence creates a feedback cycle in many communities, according to Lori Taylor, PhD, an education policy researcher at Texas A&M University.

“If you have really good schools in your town, then people want to live there,” Taylor told Teen Vogue.  “If they want to live there, they all compete for the houses to live there, and that props up the property values in your community and generates more revenue for your school district.”

In an April piece for the Brookings Institute, Roza pointed out that between 1970 and 2019, more than 30 states revised their K–12 funding formulas in the name of equity.  But the prescription came with a side effect.  When income taxes and sales taxes are on the decline during recessions, states are forced to cut costs, putting high‐poverty school districts and the students they serve at a disadvantage.  This was the story of 2008, says David Knight, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of Washington who studies the economics of education and wrote an analysis of the Great Recession’s effect on school funding.

“Many states implemented across-the-board cuts to K–12 education after the recession, without considering which students and families would be impacted,” Knight told Teen Vogue.

Identity

Back to School Plans Are Leaving Some Immunocompromised Students Behind

By Isabella Brown  |    |  back-to-school-immunocompromised-students @ Teen Vogue

This fall, [Madeline] Moss [a 20‐year‐old going into her sophomore year of college] plans to transfer from the University of Lafayette to Louisiana State University.  However, she is perturbed by LSU’s approach to reopening.  While teaching will remain at least partially online, LSU is urging their students to return to their dorms.  “If I’m up there by myself, my parents can’t come get me,” Moss said.  “I have to figure it out on my own and if I get sick then I’ll be in the hospital for a month or however long and I can’t risk that.”

[Anabelle] Franz [a 17‐year‐old at K‐12 International, an online school] thinks schools should offer both virtual and in‐person teaching, and not just for immunocompromised teens.  “My brother is autistic,” Franz said.  “And he has been given the option to stay home or go to school because he’s refusing to wear a mask, not because he’s anti‐mask just because it’s hard for him to deal with that on his face all day because he has sensory issues.

“When I see the girl who is beyond privileged continuously going against the stay‐at‐home guidelines,” [Anni] Heinicke [a sophomore at Durango High School in Colorado] said, “it makes me so angry because it’s just this completely selfish and ignorant carelessness that makes my skin crawl.  It hurts me personally because it’s putting me at risk.

In late April, groups of Americans mounted protests against government-mandated quarantine, with some protesters even bringing weapons to their state capitals.  Heinicke finds herself frustrated with the risks protestors’ demands may pose, which could harm herself and others.  “People don’t have to die,” she said.  “I’m almost 16.  I don’t want to die from this virus.  I want to get married.  I want to have kids.”

Identity

How Schools Can Help Students Cope With Coronavirus Trauma During Distance Learning

By Sarah Chaves  |    |  students-cope-with-coronavirus-trauma-distance-learning @ Teen Vogue

A 2008 report found that two‐thirds of children in community samples said they’d experienced a traumatic event by age 16.  But that was before coronavirus, before the anxiety rates for Black teens were increasing at an alarming rate in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.

Among the most vulnerable of students include those with learning and intellectual disabilities.  Integrative child psychotherapist Caroline Logsdail of the TRC Group, a U.K.‐based therapy center specializing in adolescent mental health, said that students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have been particularly challenged during the last few months because they thrive on consistency and routine, something the pandemic has been anything but.  Students with unstable home environments have also been hit hard.  “If a young person doesn’t feel safe and secure in their own home,” Logsdail says, “remote learning is not going to be successful.”

Dr. Michael Murphy, M.D., M.P.H., executive medical director for River Oaks Treatment Center, an American Addiction Centers facility, said the LGBTQ community is also especially at risk.  A 2014 report by the Urban Institute found that students who identified as transgender were more likely to live independently sooner in their lifetime because of family rejection or violence.  In large part, many students within the LGBTQ community feel their voices aren’t represented on the teacher level or among their peers even with traditional in‐person learning.  Problems and tensions may rise in an online environment, Dr. Murphy says, as students may habitually come to silence themselves if they become intimidated or fearful of such an unfamiliar setting.

Culture

How Theater Programs Are Adjusting to Online Learning

By Yasmin Zacaria Mikhaiel  |    |  theater-programs-adjusting-to-online-learning @ Teen Vogue

With limited theater arts resources offered throughout the Chicago Public School system, storefront theaters have provided a solid home to young creators.  But with the global pandemic not allowing for gatherings, their program has had to adjust by leaning on interviews, research, and lived experiences to produce work.

Students here are aware of the national legacy regarding cuts to arts funding.  Jasmine Poindexter, 16, a junior dance major tells Teen Vogue, “I know sometimes theater arts get looked down upon or they get completely ignored.”  But she advocates for its necessity, especially after losing both her mother and grandpa between May and April to COVID-19.  “Acting lets me release feelings and being online has helped me with my patience.  […]  Being in theater has helped me calm down and just keep going.

“As a practice, we are a collective art form.  We get to richer, more complex understanding because of the contributions from all those different people and places and spaces,” [Katie] Dawson [the Director of Drama for Schools based in Austin] tells Teen Vogue.  Theater centers the ensemble, a community of learners and practitioners.  Now that the space for this collective is no longer physically shared, the question becomes how to incorporate shared body and movement work.  “Our bodies hold histories and experiences—it is not separate from what we are doing and feeling at any given time.  Finding ways to use our body in our teaching and learning online is something that drama/theatre can offer,” advocates Dawson.

“Theater is one of the best‐case scenarios for remote learning because we can cultivate so much independence in students to have agency over their own creativity,” Daniel Nakawatase, Theater Arts Director at St. Anthony High School in Long Beach, California says.  [...]

Nakawatase also notes that during these remote times, the only extracurricular activities that are continuing are related to the arts:  “[...]  That’s what’s going to keep society going and the kids invested in their learning.”

Politics

Colleges Are Expelling and Suspending Students Who Don’t Social Distance

By Mary Retta  |    |  colleges-suspend-expel-students-social-distancing @ Teen Vogue

At the University of Pittsburgh, students who violate the student conduct code are designated “persona non grata” status, which means they are restricted from accessing university buildings and campus grounds.  The school has also encouraged students to report on one another if they suspect someone is not social distancing properly.  “The more information you can provide, the better able we are to follow up with appropriate consequences,” the dean of students wrote in an August 19 email to the student body.  [...]

“I really worry about policing and student self‐reporting,” says a student at the University of Pittsburgh, who prefers to remain anonymous.  “Students of color are being put in more danger by COVID already, and with implicit bias about snitching, I’m sure it’s an added stress that’s affecting them personally and academically.  I just don’t think that a student’s entire academic career should be ruined for making a bad choice at 18.”

The atmosphere on campuses has been anxiety‐inducing for many students.  Not only do they have to worry about catching COVID‐19 any time they enter a classroom or dorm, they also shoulder their anxieties without communities of support.  If they slip up and go to see their friends, they could get suspended, which could alter their academic career’s trajectory.  If they catch COVID‐19 and get sent home, they have to deal with the virus and worry about potentially infecting their families.

“In the middle of a pandemic, being suspended can have significantly heightened emotional consequences for students,” [Jessi] Gold [assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis] says.  “Those who get suspended and have COVID‐19 might physically feel ill from a disease, feel depressed and isolated, and then are facing even more change as they are told that they cannot return to a place where their friends are, and where they were working hard to attain their future goals.  It is basically a perfect storm for increased mental health concern.”

“I do think it is important to consider that schools could have prevented any of these gatherings by not having classes in person,” says Toner, the University of Maryland student.  “If students were to remain at home until COVID was legitimately under control, this could have been prevented.  It isn’t fair to place all of the responsibility on the students who were told by their school to return.