Sonoma County high schools see increase in failing grades and anxiety amid distance learning

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About four in ten high school students in Sonoma County have one or more failing grades, an upsurge since distance learning resumed this quarter due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Educators said they are alarmed because the increase comes amid an uptick in mental health issues among secondary students.

Recent data from Sonoma County’s high school district finds 37% of students have one or more failing grades, up 10% from this time last year. Among freshman, the rates have risen from 27% to 40%.

“We got about a third of kids having trouble attending,” said William Lyon, president of the Santa Rosa Teachers Association. “So, it’s hard to know if it’s technology or it’s family issues - there are a lot of reasons why a kid may not show up. We have another third who are attending, but they aren’t engaged.”

Lyon told KCBS Radio that even some of those who attend 100% of the time have a failing grade.

This comes as a survey found a majority of students said they suffer from anxiety from having to do distance learning.

“We’re going to have to figure out ways to support our students, especially on the mental health front,” Lyon noted.

Educators from across Sonoma County held a 4 hour meeting last week to discuss ways to improve student performance.