Pandemic-Related School Closings Likely to Have Far-Reaching Effects on Child Well-Being

By April 5, 2022 Blog

A global analysis of educational consultants has found that kids whose schools closed to stop the spread of various waves of the coronavirus lost educational progress and are at increased risk of dropping out of school. As a result, the study says, they will earn less money from work over their lifetimes than they would have if schools had remained open.

Here are the four ways the closings have affected students’ well-being for the long term.

Academic Progress

At the end of the 2020-2021 school year, most students were about four to five months behind where they should have been in math and reading, in professional development education study in KSA.

Differences also can vary by grade level. High schools have been closed more total days than elementary schools. According to a recent news report, 2021 graduation rates dipped across the country, and some education leaders fear future graduating classes may be hit even harder. Schools have scrambled to provide options such as credit recovery to boost graduation rates, leaving concerns about the quality of learning.

Social-Emotional Development

Even early in the pandemic, school closings were harming students’ social and emotional well-being, according to a review of 36 studies across 11 countries including the U.S. By summer 2021, teachers and administrators said students felt more emotional distress, disengagement, depression, anxiety and loneliness than in previous years.

In addition, 28% of all parents of children in grades K-12 are “very concerned” or “extremely concerned” about their child’s mental health and social and emotional well-being. That’s down from a high of 35% in spring 2021, but is still 7 percentage points higher than before the pandemic.

Schools and organizations have focused resources on supporting students’ social, emotional and mental health. The U.S. Department of Education, for example, recommends, based on research, that teachers integrate lessons around compassion and courage into classroom activities, and that schools establish wellness teams to help students.

Behavioral Habits

The return to in-person learning has been accompanied by school leaders’ reports of increasing student misbehavior. Meanwhile, news reports show students are missing more school than they were before the pandemic, with more kids out for more than 15 days of a school year. Given links between chronic absenteeism and increased high school dropout rates.

Physical Health

Adults have suffered hair loss, sore eyes, irritable bowels and skin flare-ups as a result of the pandemic. One study found that Chinese preschool children whose schools closed during the pandemic were shorter than preschoolers in previous years, though the researchers did not observe noteworthy differences in weight change. Schools can be a primary place for children to access physical activity and healthy food. Amid school closures, researchers are exploring the effects of losing out on these benefits. During lockdowns in Italy, children with obesity engaged in less physical activity, slept and used screens more and increased their consumption of potato chips and sugary drinks.

Connection, collaboration and positive interaction are fundamental to healthy childhood growth and development. Working together, schools, families and communities can assess and address every child’s needs to reduce the lasting effects of school closings.

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