Anxiety and depression: No. 1 reason a district wants kids back

'It's even more important for us to have eyes on kids on a regular basis,' superintendent says
By: | June 3, 2021
All buildings in Public Schools of Petoskey have been open all school year, except for a month when the high school had to close.All buildings in Public Schools of Petoskey have been open all school year, except for a month when the high school had to close.

Kindergarteners are enrolling in Michigan’s Public Schools of Petoskey at a slower pace than in years past as the U.S. education system bounces back from COVID.

The drop-off reflects a challenge facing districts across the country: Administrators are trying to coax back students who either didn’t log into online learning consistently or whose families remain concerned about COVID’s risks even as vaccinations take hold.

Petoskey Superintendent Christopher Parker expects fall enrollment to be down slightly. The district’s smaller, incoming kindergarten wave won’t fully replace this year’s large graduating class.

The district is now doing radio spots and using local media to publicize its health and safety efforts.


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“We’ve been able to stay open the entire year with the exception of about a month at high school,” Parker says.

The district spreads updates with the help of its community advisory council and also partners with the local chamber of commerce to keep the business community informed of what’s happening at the schools, Parker says.

Petoskey also revamped its website to show that schools are open and kids are learning, he says.

Public Schools of Petoskey“It takes a little more patience on our part,” Parker says. “We’re trying to highlight all we’re doing to keep kids and families safe and also talk about great things about being enrolled here.”

Parker says he and his team were aware of the academic impacts on online learning but were perhaps more concerned about students becoming isolated while staying home.

When district contract tracers informed students they had to quarantine, many were more upset about being away from friends for 14 days than they were about the chance of getting sick, Parker says.

“Data suggests there’s an increase in teens with depression and anxiety so it’s even more important for us to have eye son kids on a regular basis,” Parker says.