COVID-19 took the country by surprise. It has shut down countless businesses, forced everyone inside, and left most places appear as ghost towns even though they are actually full of people.
This is a very stressful time for many people, including teens. With school cancelled, lack of social interaction, no school events, a sense of entrapment inside, and a potential for getting the virus that is very quickly spreading, the youth have a lot on their plates. On top of all that, there is the additional feat of making a huge transition into online school.
The adjustment has been hard, and the workload has been even harder. There are many reasons why the workload should be lessened, such as mental health, physical health and social health. Teens are dealing with many new changes, which can take a toll on their mental health. Making sure to wash their hands twice the amount that is typical, checking in on friends, dealing with the cancellation of traditional events, and the stress of the virus that seems to be only getting closer can be overwhelming. Some are even dealing with a loss of income to their parents and are facing financial issues.
According to many teens, the amount of schoolwork is leaving them with barely any time to cope with these new factors. As APEX assignments, ZOOM classes, essays and many other things pile up on their to-do list, there is less and less time in the day to do things that them help cope with the current situation. Likewise, this can be a setup for disaster, as many teens learn at different paces and in different ways. The lack of structure in assignments, as a result, is a huge obstacle that can be extremely stressful.
From personal experience, assigning things due at the end of the week with no instruction of pacing is confusing and causes a sense of panic. The additional stress of making sure to get every single assignment done without any form of structure or place to keep track of it all takes a toll on the mental health of teens.
Physical health is taking a hit for teens, too. Predominantly sitting all day, staring at a computer and only getting up to use the restroom is going to result in physically unfit teens. The time that could be used for working out is either right before school or just before bed. All hours between are spent working or spending time with family. Additionally, as all sports practices are cancelled, some teens need more free time to work towards what could potentially be their only chance at college. However, they are out of luck because of the hours of assignments due by the end of the week.
Health should be the main priority, especially in these times. Spending upwards of 8 hours daily on schoolwork when it used to only be 7 (including breaks) is unfair. Physical health is a large part of why the workload on teens should be eased up on.
Social health has taken a huge hit because of this quarantine. People aren’t allowed to leave the house to see people they normally see every day. And those who are lucky enough to do so aren’t allowed to go within 6 feet. Many are attempting to stay as connected as they can via electronic communication. Social media and calling has never been so popular. That is, in the adult world. Teens are lacking in social connection since there is no time to interact. Mainly, the countless hours spent working on schoolwork daily adds up, leaving barely enough time to stay connected with family, let alone friends.
Developing social skills is a huge part of being a teen, and not only has the quarantine prevented this important learning experience, but so has online school. Social health needs time to build, making another reason for the workload to be eased up on. Many claim that this is not an extended summer vacation, and that work must be done. Just because teens are not in school does not give an excuse to slack off and not do schoolwork. We mostly agree.
School should not be completely forgotten in times like these, but it also should not be intensified. We believe that the workload is too much and should be reined in a bit. We need time to deal with the stress of the world in its current state, go outside (socially distanced of course) and do exercise, and stay connected with friends and family. If anything, the workload should be less than average since there are many new factors coming to play. While it is not summer time, it is a very stressful time, and is not a call for the same amount or more work.
All in all, teens are overwhelmed. The large amount of schoolwork they are facing has left them with a lack of time to be involved in other aspects of their lives. Their mental, physical, and emotional health can be rebuilt with more structure to their assignments, and less work. This will make it easier on us and leave teachers with happier students. Teachers should get in touch with their students and fellow staff as much as possible to make this whole situation easier. Constructive input is needed in times like these, and listening and planning with each other is the best solution for now.