Student Voice Team leading study on the student impact of COVID-19 – Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence
Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence

Student Voice Team leading study on the student impact of COVID-19

This week on Innovations in Education, we held our first all-student panel discussion about how middle and high school students are coping with COVID-19. The Prichard Committee’s Student Voice Team (SVT), started creating the survey on this topic when schools closed for the pandemic in March. Over the past several weeks, the team has developed the survey in consultation with research experts from Kentucky and around the country.

When the survey window closed Friday, 12,961 students from all 120 Kentucky counties had participated.

In Monday’s episode, four SVT members who are leading the survey work spoke with me about the survey method and preliminary trends in the data.

Our panelists included:

  • Emmy Sippy (Henry Clay High School, Fayette County)
  • Krupa Hegde (Gatton Academy, Warren County; Ryle High School, Boone County)
  • ViAsia Bramblett (North Hardin High School, Elizabethtown)
  • Gabriella Staykova (Dunbar High School, Lexington)

“The survey was inspired by our “Ready or Not” report and school climate research,” said Sippy. “This is a grassroots effort to improve Kentucky schools in this moment.”

Researchers from several departments at the University of Kentucky and other thought leaders are helping with the process in what Sippy refers to as “an intergenerational partnership.”

“We are capturing broad trends with student experiences before and after COVID-19 while capturing race, sex, culture and geographical data,” said Staykova.

Key Takeaways:

  • Cyber bullying has decreased since COVID closed schools.
  • Many students report feeling more depression, anxiety and a sense of worthlessness than before schools closed.
  • One positive trend is students are getting more sleep, spending more time outside and making better use of their time whole learning some time management skills too.
  • Students have been losing their mental health services and needing/wanting more.
  • So far, the majority of students are not satisfied with remote learning. “We know testing at home is a challenge for many – beyond lack of internet connections some students do not have a quiet place to work due to room sharing, families are home all day together due to the pandemic, amongst other things,” said Sippy.
  • There are some real technical challenges for some students in participating in remote learning. Panelist ViAsia Bramblett, for example, has limited access to the internet at her home in rural Hardin County. She says she’d like to see WiFi hotspots, like those offered in Jefferson County, offered statewide. (If you would like to tell Congress to fund internet access for all Kentuckians, click here).
  • Students are yearning for more connection and empathy and also empathizing more with teachers.

The survey is currently being disseminated through social media and email distribution lists via several school districts across the state. The survey is being promoted by youth leadership partners, including the Kentucky Student Council Association and the Kentucky YMCA Association. All Kentucky high school students are encouraged to take the 10-minute survey. Additionally, the survey is available in Spanish.

The Student Voice Team will also interview students across the state, seeking out peers who may not have access to the online survey or who have stories to tell that may not otherwise be captured by a survey about their experience learning from home. The team will release a full report of their findings at the Aug. 7 meeting of the Kentucky Board of Education.

Next Up on Innovations:

  • The campaign to bring broadband internet to all Kentuckians, regardless of zip code or income
  • The “future of work” with Kentucky business leaders
  • Please note, due to the Memorial Day holiday there will be no episode the week of May 25.

You can find this episode and previous episodes of Innovations in Education on the Prichard Committee’s YouTube channel. You can also find earlier webcasts specifically related to COVID-19’s impact on education here.