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Students in PSSD have higher anxiety rates than other Canadian students, data shows

The board of education received a student accountability report with survey data during its recent meeting.

Students in Prairie South School Division (PSSD) have higher rates of anxiety than Canadian norms, according to new data from the division.

Amanda Olson, superintendent of learning, presented a student accountability report with the survey data during the recent October board of education meeting. 

The survey — which 2,058 students from grades 4 to 12 completed — is usually conducted in the spring and the data presented in June. However, because of the pandemic, the information was unavailable then.

The survey focused on students’ positive sense of belonging, positive teacher-student relationships, anxiety levels and vaping activities. 

Anxiety

Students felt various emotions — such as anxiety — about returning to school during the pandemic, Olson said. School personnel worked to support them and their families during the transition back in person or to online learning. This included calling them before the year started to put them at ease.

The data for moderate to high levels of anxiety compared PSSD students to the Canadian norm. The results showed:

  • Grade 4: 28 per cent / 23 per cent
  • Grade 5: 36 per cent / 22 per cent
  • Grade 6: 34 per cent / 24 per cent
  • Grade 7: 31 per cent / 24 per cent
  • Grade 8: 33 per cent / 26 per cent
  • Grade 9: 29 per cent / 27 per cent
  • Grade 10: 28 per cent / 27 per cent
  • Grade 11: 33 per cent / 25 per cent
  • Grade 12: 24 per cent / 24 per cent 

Vaping

The survey asked 370 students in grades 7 to 12 about their vaping habits in the last 30 days. The data showed 82 per cent had vaped zero times; six per cent vaped one to two times; nine per cent vaped more than 20 times; two per cent vaped five to 10 times; and one per cent vaped 10 to 20 times.

Olson noted that that six per cent is a decrease from 33 per cent in the spring of 2019. 

Meanwhile, 71 per cent said they have never tried vaping, 15 per cent said they vaped a couple of times, 12 per cent vaped nicotine, and two per cent vaped marijuana.  

Positive sense of belonging

The data for positive sense of belonging compared PSSD students to the Canadian norm. The results showed:

  • Grade 4: 73 per cent / 82 per cent
  • Grade 5: 68 per cent / 79 per cent
  • Grade 6: 68 per cent / 78 per cent
  • Grade 7: 56 per cent / 76 per cent
  • Grade 8: 56 per cent / 74 per cent
  • Grade 9: 67 per cent / 66 per cent
  • Grade 10: 68 per cent / 64 per cent
  • Grade 11: 60 per cent / 62 per cent
  • Grade 12: 60 per cent / 63 per cent

Some data from 2021 was the same as in 2019, while some grades decreased by 11 per cent, said Olson, although she did not identify where the changes were. Some students might have felt an increased sense of belonging, perhaps because they were placed in cohorts with the same youths for the year. 

“For some students, that would work very well, and for others, it would have been very difficult to work with one group,” she remarked. 

Positive teacher-student relationships

The data for positive teacher-student relationships compared PSSD students to the Canadian norm. The results showed:

  • Grade 4: 86 per cent / 83 per cent
  • Grade 5: 81 per cent / 83 per cent
  • Grade 6: 82 per cent / 83 per cent
  • Grade 7: 70 per cent / 79 per cent
  • Grade 8: 73 per cent / 78 per cent
  • Grade 9: 77 per cent / 77 per cent 
  • Grade 10: 76 per cent / 75 per cent
  • Grade 11: 77 per cent / 75 per cent
  • Grade 12: 75 per cent / 74 per cent

Some grades increased one to three per cent and some decreased three to seven per cent, said Olson, without specifying which grades those were. 

Similar to the previous data, these changes could be because there were no extracurricular activities or because students were in cohorts and had less interaction with other adults, she added.

The next PSSD board meeting is Tuesday, Nov. 2.