Facing the Fall
Maine Student Perspectives on Returning to In-person Instruction and COVID-19
In July and August as schools and other educational programs considered and prepared their responses to operating during COVID-19, we wanted to include young people in those conversations. We circulated a survey for young people asking them about remote learning and their thoughts on the safety of in-person school. We also asked them what they hoped for or needed from schools and educational programs this Fall.
We got 426 responses from young people in 13 of Maine’s counties. In general, we noticed extreme levels of anxiety related to concerns about personal health and safety as well as the health and safety of family and teachers. Anxieties were also high in regard to family finances and potential costs due to illness.
Most students (70%) listed a variety of adjustments they wanted to see schools and institutions make in order to feel safe, such as mandatory mask wearing.
I would like to do a hybrid schedule. Wearing a Mask every day for five days a week will be really hard and I think it would be easier to do some remote learning and some at school learning.
—Piscataquis County Student, 6th Grade
While most students said they would abide by mask wearing guidelines, there were a number of young people who expressed they would not wear masks, even if required to.
A small number of students expressed feelings of distrust towards others in their school communities, which contributed to heightened anxiety levels.
Tensions are high for most around what school will look like as we head further into the Fall, and a potential for conflict exists between these two groups of students.
I don’t feel safe. I honestly don’t think other people will social distance, wear masks, or follow guidelines. They aren’t doing it now, so why would they do it at school?
—York County Student, 12th Grade
Based on our findings from the survey, in order to meet the needs of students schools and educational programs should:
- Focus on school/program culture
- Minimize the potential for anxiety due to distrust
- Prioritize relationships within school and educational communities
- Support student-driven efforts to adapt social and cultural milestones related to educational settings
You can read the full summary of our findings and more details about our recommendations in the full report by clicking on the button below. Feel free to share these findings with your friends and colleagues, and in conversations with young people. You can reach out to us with questions or comments via the contact us form here on our website.