Our Turn, a non-profit organization focused on elevating student voices in education dialogues and decision-making, conducted a survey of young people in April 2020 to understand how COVID-19 is impacting them and their educational experiences.
We know that inequities in our society have always existed in education, yet recent events have exacerbated these inequities in countless ways. Young people have been dramatically impacted by the effects of COVID-19, yet have not been asked about their experiences or asked what they need in order to ensure that they are able to learn effectively and continue with their education. In many cases, the challenges they are now facing in these circumstances are making learning nearly impossible - in particular young people who are coming from low-income backgrounds - further widening existing opportunity gaps.
“I used to be a good student. I had a bunch of motivation to move on.
I had a job. After this whole pandemic thing went down, I started getting
off track with school. My mental health has been really bad.
I’ve been unmotivated.”
“Quarantine affected my mental health so much that I had to drop out of college.”
- Mental health for students has become a major problem, with limited support. The majority of students - 65% - state that their mental health has worsened, and 56% are concerned about their mental health in both the short- and long-term. While some schools and universities are offering mental health support and counseling, most are not, and students are citing it as a prioritized need. 28% stated that their physical health has also worsened during this time.
- Many individuals state that they are facing serious challenges due to their personal situation at home. This includes financial insecurity in their family (38%), and students citing additional responsibilities that they have had to take on at home (37%), including caring for younger siblings or taking on additional work. 11% cited that their family is facing food insecurity, and 9.4% are housing insecure.
- Young people identified a wide variance of support and communication from teachers and professors, and varying degrees of work assigned. Some students cited no contact from teachers, and others stated that the workload assigned was even more than prior to school closure. 55% cited that they are concerned about a loss of learning.
- A major need identified for young people was connectivity with others and community. 64% cited that they were concerned about missing major milestones (like prom, graduation, etc.).
- Students have many identified needs and concerns that they would like to voice. 76% were not consulted prior to their school or campus closing.
- Despite all of these challenges, the majority of respondents remain committed and motivated to learn and improve their communities, and are optimistic about the future.
“I take care of my 3 little sisters while my mom goes to work at a hospital
(where she is working with infected patients nearly everyday). I also take care
of my grandmother and am the one that goes on all errands for the family.”
“I’ve had to order WiFi and it’s free for two months which is good but I don’t know what to do when summer begins and I have to pay for
WiFi. I am not working and I don’t know how I’m going to make ends meet.”