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NEW YORK, NY- The tragic deaths prompted Mayor Bill de Blasio to spotlight the mental health struggles for students amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Three New York City public school students took their own lives in as many weeks, according to a recent report.
The deaths, first reported by the New York Post, prompted a reckoning over student mental health amid the many disruptions from the coronavirus pandemic.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, when asked Wednesday by a PIX11 reporter, called the deaths “very, very painful.”
“The fact that these kids have gone through this crisis, the trauma they’ve felt, many kids have lost loved ones,” he said. “Many kids are feeling really isolated in the absence of … the regular rhythms of their life. And particularly the absence of school for some of them.”
The Post reported that there have been five student suicides this year, compared to four during the whole of 2020.
The coronavirus pandemic prompted a massive and abrupt shift to remote learning nearly a year ago. De Blasio and school officials over the summer sought to bring back in-person classes, but the rollout was troubled amid parental and teacher concerns, as well as the automatic closure of classrooms when COVID-19 cases began to rise again in the fall.
Only K-5, pre-K, 3K and special needs students are officially back to in-person learning — and the majority of their parents chose the option to remain fully remote this school year.
In-person middle school students will to classrooms on Feb. 25, while high school students have yet to hear a return date.
De Blasio said students’ clear struggles amid the pandemic makes the full-time return to classrooms “imperative.”
“Now, every single school has mental health services that they can plug kids into,” he said. “We’re trying to make sure that guidance counselors, social workers, principals, everyone’s thinking about if there’s a child with a mental health need that we’re speeding those services and supports to them right now. But… it’s not easy when kids aren’t in-person and that’s what’s causing so much of the problem here and it’s painful, but we really are trying to help every child.”