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Study shows Ky. students more anxious, depressed & less motivated after initial wave of COVID

Published: Aug. 7, 2020 at 9:56 AM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - As questions loom about a return to school, a study authored by Kentucky students and the Prichard Committee shows what kind of impact the initial wave of COVID-19 had on students.

One of the project leaders had the chance to present their findings to the Kentucky Board of Education.

On August 5th, Paul Lawrence Dunbar Senior Sanaa Kahloon could barely believe what she’d be doing in 24 hours.

“When I took this job as research director, I was never imagining presenting in front of the KBE,” said Kahloon. “I was imagining like little publications in education journals. Not this.”

Since May, Kahloon and 24 other students from across the state have been conducting a study to see how Kentucky students viewed life and learning in the middle of a pandemic.

”That survey was asking questions about student’s home life, their educational life, their future plans, teacher dynamics (I guess), basically trying to get a holistic view of what students were experiencing during school closures in the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kahloon said. “Overwhelmingly, we saw a shift towards more anxious, more depressed, less motivated, but what was most concerning was those shifts were concentrated among poor, working-class, African American, any minority or disadvantaged group were experiencing these shifts at a dramatically larger rate than upper class, middle-class white students were.”

“We should be prioritizing the students that already were the most disadvantaged in mitigating these impacts,” Kahloon said.

Kahloon tells us this study is vital for the reopening of schools because it gives a perspective that may not have been looked at as closely during planning.

“When we’re discussing school reopening, a lot of conversations were being had around educators, administrators, and adults but not any kind of student feedback that I’ve seen,” Kahloon said. “And the student feedback is arguably the most important because we are the ones who will be experiencing whatever type of education system is come up with.”

Kahloon tells us that the research team will now interview 50 students from across the commonwealth to get a more personalized view of the struggles they’re facing.

They hope to do that three times this year to get a holistic picture of how students cope in the middle of a pandemic.

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