SEOUL, March 20 (Korea Bizwire) — The COVID-19 pandemic has left a profound impact on students, particularly the so-called “corona kids” whose emotional and social development has been disrupted during a critical period of their lives.
Many have experienced a decrease in physical strength, suffering from poor psychological well-being and a loss of self-confidence.
Despite the lifting of the indoor mask mandate more than a month ago, many students are still choosing to wear masks in the classroom, with some finding it difficult to form relationships or feeling awkward about removing them.
At one elementary school in Seoul, only one student out of a class of 20 removed their mask, while fewer than 10 students out of 200 removed their masks in middle school classes.
Jeong Hye-young, a third-grade teacher in Seoul, shared that, “Children often say they are ashamed of their faces when they take off their masks.
They seem to have gotten used to not being able to see each other’s facial expressions,” and as a result, they are struggling to remember their friends’ names and feeling awkward in social situations.
The decrease in face-to-face communication and difficulty in forming peer relationships has raised red flags for students’ mental health.
According to the ’2022 Student Health Survey’ conducted by the Ministry of Education in February last year, 27 percent of elementary school students experienced depression, and 12.2 percent of middle and high school students were severely depressed.
In addition, the pandemic has led to a decrease in physical fitness, with the rate of overweight and obese students in Seoul increasing from 26.7 percent in 2019 to 32.1 percent in 2021.
To address these issues, the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education has designated the first semester of this year as a “stepping stone semester” to help students overcome the intellectual, emotional, and physical crises triggered by COVID-19.
The education office will promote school sports events as “community health festivals” and deploy friendship experts to restore social skills and prevent school violence.
The school’s surplus space will also be used for physical activity by installing sports equipment and facilities.
However, the psychological scars left by the pandemic are proving to be difficult to overcome.
The results of art therapy for 70 corona kids revealed that they mainly expressed fear, anxiety, frustration, and isolation in response to images associated with the coronavirus, according to a Hankook Ilbo report.
Prof. Kim Sun-hyun at Yonsei University Wonju College of Medicine, an authority on clinical art therapy, found that when children drew pictures with the theme of “family” during the pandemic, they mainly expressed the disconnection between family members, reflecting the difficulty of face-to-face interaction due to self-isolation and distance.
In conclusion, the “corona kids” are facing significant challenges as they try to navigate the post-pandemic world. While efforts are being made to help them overcome their difficulties, the scars left by the pandemic may take some time to heal.
Lina Jang (email@example.com)