Ever since schools were shut down in mid-March as a result of the rapid spread of COVID-19, students in the Tri-Valley and across the nation and globe have been left in a state of uncertainty.
Yash Khaitan, a rising senior at Dublin High, launched the TeenTalks Podcast to address the impact that the pandemic has had on local high-schoolers and their mental health.
"I think COVID-19 has placed an invisible barrier between all students," Khaitan said. "It has forced students to stay out of contact with each other."
Khaitan described how the isolation of the prolonged shelter-in-place has adversely impacted students.
"At first, I thought it was a dream come true," he said of the announcement that schools would be shutting down. "I didn't need to get up early to go to school. I could take my classes and do my school assignments in bed. (However), I soon realized that I was waking up late and missing my classes. I started losing grip on my daily tasks."
"This podcast is my attempt to come together with the community, students and parents to talk about what will happen next in the world," he continued. "In each episode, I bring on one high school student to discuss the impacts that COVID-19 has had on their mental health and their personal, academic and social life."
Khaitan's guests have included student body leaders and activists. They tend to be rising seniors; as such, college admissions is a frequent topic.
"(There is) so much on the student's shoulders, including standardized tests, college applications, extracurriculars," Khaitan said. He referenced the cancellation of standardized testing dates for months on end and the lack of stability in students' coursework during this time of sudden school closures.
Khaitan insists that this, plus the ever-changing admissions criteria for universities who are trying to grapple with the pandemic themselves, is only increasing the stress on local high-schoolers.
The TeenTalks Podcast can be found on Spotify.