Closing schools was widely used as a practice to decrease contagion and cases of COVID-19 during the respective pandemic, which resulted in interruption of schooling for most school-age youth. There is a consensus in society that quality education enables a better quality of life and reduces social inequalities. However, with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, this possibility became more distant and revealed another problem: the mental health of children and adolescents. In the month of “Yellow September” — dedicated to the debate and suicide prevention — this week’s DotLib article brings an original investigation by our partner, the scientific journal Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) , on how remote classes can impact development psychology of our children and adolescents. Scenario In the United States, estimates suggest that in November and December 2020, approximately half of students in kindergarten through high school attended school remotely.
Another 19% attended school in a hybrid model that combined remote and face-to-face instruction, and 28% attended fully face-to-face school. There was socioeconomic variability in the mode of education, with low-income groups, especially Afro-descendants and Hispanics, the most likely to attend the totally remote school. Pandemic-related disruptions can negatively and unevenly affect children’s mental health. A third of a convenience sample of Argentina Phone Number parents reported that their children were sadder, depressed or lonely since the beginning of the pandemic. Longitudinal data from children in China aged 9 to 16 years showed an increase in depressive symptoms as well as suicidal thoughts and behaviors compared to the time before COVID-19 home isolation restrictions were implemented. Closing and reopening of schools School gate locked with padlock Decisions about school closures in the COVID-19 pandemic and during potential future pandemics need to balance risks and benefits.
Consequences for children’s mental health are a potential risk, and data on distance education mental health outcomes can inform this decision-making calculation. Obtaining reliable data on the extent to which different educational modalities are associated with the future of young people is critical to informing these models. This can help guide decision-making at the local and national levels as the current pandemic progresses or even during future pandemics. In a sample of millions of people and nationally representative of parents of school-age youths in the United States, the present study sought to characterize the sociodemographic pattern of the school modality, assess the extent to which the school modality was associated with the mental health outcomes of young people and describe how these associations varied according to the child’s age and socioeconomic status. Older children who were homeschooled had worse mental health outcomes compared to those who attended school in person.