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Davis High’s marching band performs during the Veterans Day Parade Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, in downtown Yakima, Wash.

Back on March 13, 2020, students left their schools thinking they would return in six short weeks after a much-needed, yet unexpected, break. Many sports seasons were about to begin. Drama departments were preparing for their final shows of the year and the class of 2020 was anticipating the best months of high school.

Though the concern surrounding COVID-19 is valid and completely understandable, the absence of school and extracurricular activities are having a serious impact on the mental health of students.

Social isolation and loss of routine are detrimental to the mental and physical health of teens. Depression, anxiety and suicide are increasing at an alarming rate.

Domestic violence and physical abuse rates have also risen during this pandemic. Extracurriculars, sports and activities give students a chance to be in a safe environment away from home.

David Martinez, the athletic director at Sunnyside High School, is among those concerned about the continued absence of activities and what the effects might be.

“When there is an absence of extracurricular activities, sports, clubs and co-curricular band/orchestra, then students begin to lose most of the culture that is created in a school setting,” he said.

He said that Sunnyside High School focuses on assisting staff and students in creating a positive environment in which self-worth, belonging and hopefulness can flourish.

“The absence of these activities can lead to students making poor choices due to hopelessness, low self-worth and anxiety,” Martinez said.

The absence of traditional school events will not last forever. But until they return, it is important to take care of one another and, most importantly, ourselves.

If you or someone you know needs help, please consider calling one of these numbers:

  • National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness: 1-800-950-6264
  • Crisis Text Line: Text “Hello” to 741741
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
  • The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386
  • Washington Warmline: 877-500-9276
  • TeenLink: 866-833-6546