Recently, the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) released a report that aims to provide a definitive account of the best available evidence on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the social-emotional well-being of America’s students.
CRPE compiled hundreds of studies and convened panels of experts to interpret what the data show. Initial reports assess what we know to date about the pandemic’s effects.
The organization aims to present a coherent baseline of what we know, don’t know, and need to know at this stage of the pandemic. The report is designed to help system leaders, community leaders, policymakers, researchers, philanthropies, the media, and others to define ambitious goals and clear metrics that ensure our education system meets every student’s needs over the coming years.
Initial findings include the following:
- A significant portion of young people, likely 30 to 40 percent, have experienced negative impacts on their mental or social-emotional health during the pandemic.
- Students who learned remotely for long periods of time and historically marginalized students were more likely to experience these negative effects.
- Rates of anxiety and attempted suicides, already on the rise pre-pandemic, appear to have increased among all students, especially among girls.
- While some students fared well initially, or even fared better when learning remotely than they did in person before the pandemic, these positive effects did not last. Negative effects for students increased over time.
- Schools and districts, especially in rural areas without a strong social-service infrastructure, lacked systems to track student well-being or strategies to address and improve it.
Students have been deeply affected by the pandemic, including by sudden—and in many cases—lengthy separations from their school communities. Recovering from this long-term crisis calls for a comprehensive approach. Schools must provide necessary mental health supports and opportunities to regain and enhance social-emotional competencies, while also working to connect student communities and caregivers to form a cohesive system of support at home and at school. Researchers should investigate and identify promising ways to build a strong, engaging, and interconnected system of education and supports that fosters the social-emotional development, mental health, and well-being that all students need to thrive.