Getting back to in-person learning will be a tall order, education expert says

The Governor put the call out.  Get back to in-person learning by March. 

"Right now, a lot of kids and teens have really been struggling mentally," said Brooke Bendix, psychotherapist.

Bendix says she is seeing a large number of young people in her office who are saying almost a year of isolation is too much. 

"A lack of motivation, increasing anxiety, increase in depression, even physical symptoms such as weight gain or even weight loss if they're not eating," she said. "So a lot of these metal components with them out of the actual school building have been weighing on them."

In Novi, they have had a hybrid-online and in-person plan in place since September. The assistant superintendent of Novi Community School says they've proven in-person learning is safe with Social distancing, masks, and hand washing.  He says vaccines have to be ramped up immediately.

"I don't want to hear people talking about how the children are our future and we have to invest in kids and so on," said Dr. RJ Webber. "Yet we are going to drag our feet in vaccinating the people who serve them? It makes no sense whatsoever, we have to get the people who serve our children, bus drivers, lunch aides, teachers vaccinated, and let's get our kids back in front of their teachers and with their peers."

Webber says getting all schools back to in-person by March as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer hopes, may be a tall order. But he says this goes beyond kids being able to see their friends in the hall.

He points to something called executive functioning. 

"In the frontal lobe of your brain, the way you organize things, I think of a middle school student, they open the locker and it falls out on you," Webber said. "What you don't see, is the counselors and teachers who help those middle school students or elementary students develop their executive functioning. That is so difficult to do in an online environment."

Bendix says even though in-person learning is expected to re-open in spring,  some parents may want to keep students who say they want to stay home because of safety. 

Webber says they will continue virtual programming even if they come back full time in spring.