Virtual Academy students take on mental health

Mental health is a taboo in many households especially for people of color because of stereotypes and family structure.

Maddie McCord

Mental health is a taboo in many households especially for people of color because of stereotypes and family structure.

Zikra Mohammed, Guest Contributor

Although 10,931 high school students in Frisco ISD chose to return back to school in-person for the 2020-2021 school year, 7,863 students decided to stay home and continue online school for the quarter. 

For many students, the decision to stay home for virtual academy was based on health concerns for either themselves or relatives. But that decision can come with a mental health cost. According to a June 2020 study by Gallup, almost 29 percent of U.S. parents said that the harm is already taking place.

“At the very basic level for wellness students thrive when they feel capable, cared for, and connected,” Lead Counselor Dr. Stefanie Mueller said. “For some students, it was and is more natural to try to connect online, but for others, this is very difficult and leaves people feeling isolated.”

That’s something freshman Manasi Katuri can relate to as she adjusts to the schedule of high school in completely different circumstances than she would have preferred.

“As much as we didn’t like school last year with all of the difficult assignments and grades, we still liked going to school because of how much we could still hang out with our friends, but because now we are online, it’s a lot more distant and we’re more alone,” Katuri said. “Last year, I went to Fowler Middle School, so as the schools shifted, a lot of the people I knew, went to a different high school, and now I need to find a way to make friends over Zoom, in a completely different and awkward environment.”

Meanwhile, freshman Mehr Hameed has a few concerns about the fast-paced schedule of the virtual academy.

“This year has been a lot harder than last year because last year we had more time to do our assignments because they were all due Sunday,” Hameed said. “However this year everything is paced like it would be during normal school, and it’s tough because it’s been a while since we have had that routine.”

However, all of the efforts made by teachers have not gone unnoticed and Hameed and Katuri both acknowledge that it’s a struggle on both sides.

“Although I wish there was an easier way of making friends in class, the teachers are doing well this year and are encouraging participation and are being patient of the students,” Katuri said. 

“I feel that teachers have been extremely helpful during this time,” Hameed said. “By taking questions during tutorials, and being flexible about our work.”