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COVID 19 has lasting social impacts on Kentucky children

stock photo of a classroom
stock photo of a classroom

During the first years of the COVID-19 pandemic, the daily lives of many Kentuckians were changed rapidly to prevent the spread of the disease. Few groups were more effected by these measures than students, with in-person classes transitioning to online formats. Spandana Pavuluri is the head of a recent study on the lasting social impacts of COVID. She says these have left a mark on students’ mental health.

“With the mental health aspect, students talked a lot about losing motivation”, Pavuluri said. “Feeling very disconnected from their peers and from their teachers—which really led to feelings of isolation and for a lot of students who maybe already struggled with their mental health or began to during the pandemic it would lead to things like anxiety or depression.”

Pavuluri, who graduated from DuPont Manual High School in Louisville last year, led a “Kentucky Student Voice Team” and served as General Research Coordinator. After graduating, she has since continued helping the KSVT as a Senior Consultant, conducting studies relating to several COVID-related issues including staffing issues. According to Pavuluri, student mental health suffered when staff shortages arose.

“I know a lot of our students talked about not even being able to contact their counselors; Or they would email them and they wouldn’t even get a response; Or how the counselors, you know, there was one counselor for hundreds and hundreds of students and it was just so difficult to connect with this person and be able to ask them those questions about ‘How do I decide what I’m gonna do for the next four years of my life?’ ”

Pavuluri said that a large number of students lost motivation due to these issues. This resulted in increased uncertainty, greater lack of sleep, and less productivity on average.

For more from Pavuluri, tune in to this week’s Eastern Standard on WEKU.

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