Madi Dale, 13, said a year of online-only lessons destroyed her mental health (Pictures: Fox12)
A 13 year-old girl has told of the terrible toll a year of online-only school lessons has wrought on her mental health. Madi Dale spoke on the one year-anniversary of schools in her home city of Portland, Oregon, going online only – although her sentiments have been echoed by other youngsters around the globe.
She said: ‘When you’re on zoom, it feels like you’re living the same day over and over again. I would love to sugar coat it and be like, “It’s really not that bad” but it’s really not great. I never really expected we would actually be online for so long.
‘Being exhausted even though I just sat at my desk all day or sit in the kitchen all day. I would just be so tired that I had no motivation to do anything, barely even to go to my dance classes.’
Madi has since managed to transfer to a private school that offers in-person classes, and says she feels ‘so much better’ and ‘excited’ every morning about getting to go to school.
Portland is set to re-open public school buildings by April 8, as Covid cases and deaths continue to decline across the US.
The debate over how quickly to send children and teachers back to in person-learning has been one of the fiercest throughout the pandemic.
Educational experts say children are falling behind academically, and also face a mental health time bomb from not seeing friends and socializing regularly.
Many US states have reported a spike in student suicides – with Clark County in Nevada rushing to reopen schools after the number of students who killed themselves doubled compared to the previous year.
School workers say it is unfair to make them work in classrooms where social distancing is often impossible.
Many teachers and school staff are also at risk of a more severe Covid infection.
Behavioral health expert Dr Robin Henderson told Fox12: ‘That’s a very, very social, engaging time when you’re really supposed to be pulling away from your parents and developing new relationships and you’re not able to do that.
‘Is it okay to go to somebody else’s house? How do you go on a date? What’s the protocol to let you into my bubble?’
Offering advice to youngsters who are struggling, Henderson said: ‘You don’t have to be the perfect student.
‘Some days it is just too much to get up and get on a Zoom call. I know I have those days and having the grace to say it’s ok.
‘Maybe it is time to take a break from school or even change schools. Make sure you eat healthy, drink lots of water, get good sleep and exercise.’
The US has now recorded 28.7 million Covid infections, and 517,000 deaths.
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