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  • Writer's pictureShreya Anand & Iris Yao

The Effect of Quadmesters on Mental Health

Updated: Mar 15, 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented circumstances and has completely shifted the way people will live for the next few years. Among the changes made to Ontario, in particular, include the introduction of a hybrid schooling system and quadmesters for its high school students. This means they are only attending school in person once every two days if any at all, and that the school year is divided into four sections with only two classes in each. On the surface, this educational plan seems like an effective solution for preventing the spread of Covid-19, however, it has actually created a whole new set of issues regarding the students’ learning and mental health.

Our society has been forced to adapt to many changes in our environment and our overall lifestyle. One of the most important aspects of a child’s life is their education and without developing proper learning skills, students will be negatively affected in their future. The main problem with the concept of quadmesters is that course curriculums are being greatly condensed. Not only are students learning less material that will prepare them for more advanced courses, but they are also being given so much more information to process in half the amount of time they would usually get. One grade 12 student stated, “I’ve faced difficulty in the large amounts of information needed to be retained, and more work needed to be done in a significantly shorter amount of time.”

The fact is that when teenagers are put in a situation where they must sit still and listen to a teacher speak for over four hours straight, their minds will get burnt out extremely quickly and they will lose any sense of motivation. Having to then return home and complete many more hours of homework is just unreasonable and unrealistic. Additionally, it has to be acknowledged that each student shares varying learning styles that cannot be catered to in the current form of education. As much as teachers would like to help their students succeed, communication has shown to be difficult in the online portion. A grade 12 student expressed that “It's been really hard communicating with teachers, and figuring out how to do well in a class by achieving what they're looking for. The assignments aren't harder than they were before but figuring out the logistics and criteria make doing well so much harder.” In another case, a grade 10 student explained that the biggest challenge while attending online school was the poor internet connection.

High school has famously been said to be the best and worst time of one’s life. Though, most people did not have to see through a global pandemic while attending high school. With social distancing regulations in place, COVID-19 has made students hopeless about ever fully returning to school and seeing their peers on a daily basis. One grade nine student says that “it’s just so different from the past. Lunch and recess was the time to interact with friends and laugh with each other. Things have significantly changed in classrooms” in reference to how personal relationships have changed since March 2020. Another said that “everything just seems so dull” in reference to the lonely atmosphere COVID-19 has created for teenagers alike. Some may argue that COVID-19 has allowed teenagers to utilize social media platforms to virtually connect with others, but the same impacts aren’t made. For some, physical isolation accidentally led to social isolation; not feeling energized to reach out to others. Not only are people not able to see their friends, but clubs - which is another form of interaction that occurs at school, are all being pushed online. Extracurricular activities have previously been a great way for students to meet new like minded people but with all clubs being pushed online, there are certain barriers blocking students from attending meetings and making new friends. This pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health, specifically causing academic burnout, loneliness and social isolation. It is unclear whether everyone’s states will soon be lifted as the second wave has caused many lockdown protocols to be implemented, enforcing the cycle of physically and mentally isolating from the rest of the world.

Many students have said that it has become increasingly difficult to focus on school while trying to balance online extracurriculars and maintain personal relationships. With small timelines and limited ways for teenagers to interact with each other, students have become extremely stressed about time management. Lack of communication in academic and social aspects has taken a toll on everyone and has caused fallouts everywhere. The months are now beginning to blend in as everyone remains at home to stay safe and keep warm; limiting social distancing activities that can occur outdoors. On an academic basis, courses are causing so much pressure on people to succeed with little guidance from online tools. Yet again, we have reached unprecedented times, which means that everyone is struggling. The good news is that everyone is in this together, so reaching out and talking about what you’re currently experiencing with someone you trust, can do wonders for your wellbeing.

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