Students and Teachers Feel Stressors of Being Back in School

by Audrey Farris ‘25

The start of this school year was a huge change for many. Transitioning back into full-time in-person schooling after over a year of primarily being virtual was a huge change for students and teachers. No one really knew what was going to happen and how everyone would handle the change. Now that students are more than two months into the school year and have closed out the first quarter, has MCPS, and Sherwood specifically, done enough to help students through the transition back to in-person school five days a week?  

It isn’t news that many people, specifically teenagers, have been struggling with their mental health in the past 18 months of the pandemic. According to US News, anxiety levels in adolescent girls increased 36 percent, compared to 19 percent before the pandemic, and adolescent boys had an increase of 31 percent versus 18 percent.  Elizabeth Giffen, head of Sherwood’s counseling department, said that she and the other counselors have seen an increase in stress levels among students.  

Teachers are also facing the challenges of being back in the classroom while the pandemic continues. “Right now many of [the staff] are overwhelmed and feel as though more and more is being thrown at us with less and less support,” said Assistant Principal Jennifer Herman. “It is definitely a fancy dance each day to manage our stress.”

The question is, is MCPS doing enough? Each person’s definition of ‘enough’ is different. “I always feel that we can do more so my ‘enough’ is a pretty big bucket,” said Herman. “It’s trying to determine what to do and when and that is the hard part of our job.” 

MCPS had programs in place before the pandemic to address students’ mental health and well-being, and those initiatives have been amped up this school year. “MCPS has a whole website or program called ‘Be Well 365’ which incorporates resources to help students and family,” explained Giffen. She and Herman both noted that this month, Sherwood’s ‘Prevention and Intervention’ team is sponsoring a ‘Be Kind’ campaign, filled with school-wide events to promote kindness among the student body.