Post-Pandemic, Students Still Need Support

Though some supports have been removed, the Peace Room keeps its door open.

Lauren Kelly

Though some supports have been removed, the Peace Room keeps its door open.

The 2021-2022 school year was one filled with hardship, but with that hardship came support. Now, as life slowly loses the unpredictability of the pandemic’s early days, many of these supports are being taken away.

The general shift away from additional support that originated during the pandemic is shown by the removal and decrease of programs initiated during the pandemic like having one Wednesday a month be a half day, the shortening of the newly returning Advisory, and the stricter policies around latework.

School administration announced that the half-day Wednesdays instituted during the pandemic would not carry over to this school year. Though it was only one half day a month, teachers could grade and lesson plan, students could catch up on homework, and anyone who wanted to could just relax. This was all possible while still reaching the minimum 1,080 hours for a full school year. 

In addition, attitudes towards late work have gotten stricter. Some teachers are continuing their leniency, like Art teacher Ms. Morningstar who thinks that “some students can get things done super quickly in art and some need a little more time to get their ideas on paper.”

However, many are instating harsher penalties for turning in work past the deadline. A student who misses an assignment may be unable to earn credit for that assignment, permanently lowering their quarter grade. This is an issue because if a student feels they are unable to fix their grade, it may not only negatively affect their mental health but also help them justify not putting in effort.

Another change made 20 days into this school year was the shortening of Advisory. The twenty minute non-academic break between second and third period used to be every weekday, but it no longer runs on Monday and Friday. The primary reason for the shortening of Advisory was that students were using it as a free period and skipping class, but those who actually used the period are feeling its loss. Three days a week is better than nothing, but it shows the greater trend towards decreasing supports.

The COVID-19 pandemic of the past few years has brought mental health issues to the forefront. For some people, it is essentially impossible to get certain things done without support. Supporting these students as they take on heavier workloads in high school means that they can be successful both during school and after they graduate.

Students with 504 plans and IEPs receive some accommodations. However, sometimes people who need help don’t have those plans. A generalized support network can help those without targeted plans.

This isn’t to say that students shouldn’t have to put effort in or that teachers and administration shouldn’t be able to set boundaries. Students submitting work late or breaks in the schedule can often mean more work for the people that make the school run. But small amounts of leniency both ways can help to make a more supportive environment. 

During the pandemic, we realized just how much a person’s mental health could spiral without proper support. The removal of systems instituted during the pandemic makes it feel as if we didn’t learn our lesson. Ms. Morningstar says that she feels “the moment of upheaval that we had with COVID is the perfect time to now be like ‘Ok, let’s adjust things.’”

Students don’t only need support in times of crisis; we need it in everyday life. If we have been able to prove that these supports are possible and useful and if students were still using them, there is not enough reason for them to be removed.

Darius Lewis