Our Chicago: COVID-19 pandemic causes mental health concerns, educational inequity among students

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Last March, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker closed schools across the state.

Just over a year later, high school students in Chicago are still not back in classrooms while the district is planning for their return on April 19th.

The shift to remote learning has been difficult, especially for those without the technology and internet access necessary.

Robin Steans, president of Advance Illinois, an independent policy and advocacy organization, said students benefited if they had someone looking over them unless parents were working.

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Enrollment is significantly down in elementary schools, according to Robin Steans, president of Advance Illinois.



"There was an enormous amount of mental health strain, trauma, the number of students who are now reporting mental health, serious mental health issues, is well over 50%," said Steans. "So did our families and did our students have access to those mental health supports and those mental health services?"

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The COVID-19 pandemic caused growing mental health concerns and educational inequities, experts said.



Dar'tavous Dorsey, associate director of strategic engagement at the University of Chicago Crime and Education Labs, said a strategic plan is necessary.

"We need more community engagement and empowering and mentoring programs alongside with increasing funding and supporting not only cities and schools, but also directly supporting students and families" Dorsey said. "You know direct support can lift individuals out of poverty, and it can prove outcome including education, and so I can see, you know, in the time being if the state and federal government should also do a restructuring of funding to provide more equitable support for historically under-resourced schools and communities."
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