As schools throughout the state have turned to summer camps to help rebound from pandemic shutdowns that stunted academic growth, officials have noticed more behavioral problems, mental health issues and an increase in vaping since they returned to school last year.
Additionally the number of students considered chronically absent in the state rose from 11% in 2019-20 to 24% in 2020-21.
“Our children and our brains are meant to have very predictable and safe and structured behaviors," said Shannon Cox, superintendent of the Montgomery County Educational Service Center. "They didn't have that and it's really thrown those middle school kids for a loop."
Getting teachers to notice students in the class or having them ask about a student’s parents can make a difference, according to Matt Housh, director of curriculum and instruction for Huber Heights schools.
"If a student is not feeling like school is something that's important to me, or nobody cares about me, they're not going to put in the effort and they're not going to invest in themselves or academics," said Housh.
Cox said it's important for parents and teachers to set expectations for kids positively. That includes talking to kids about how they’re going to get back on track.
“Kids ... they're still going to be as smart as they're meant to be," she said. "They're still going to go to college, they're still going to go into the workforce."