Reassuring parents is important prior to opening schools during pandemic: Study
At the end of March 2020, world-wide closure of schools occurred in response of COVID-19 pandemic. The benefits of closing schools to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and the negative consequences of doing so were difficult to balance. Adding to the debate was emerging evidence of a low transmission rate of COVID-19 among children and a recognition that outbreaks may occur...
At the end of March 2020, world-wide closure of schools occurred in response of COVID-19 pandemic. The benefits of closing schools to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and the negative consequences of doing so were difficult to balance. Adding to the debate was emerging evidence of a low transmission rate of COVID-19 among children and a recognition that outbreaks may occur nonetheless.
Woodland et al conducted a study in England to investigate factors associated with a parent's willingness to send their child to school when they partially reopened, following closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this observational study participants were eligible for the study if they were aged 18 years or over, lived in England and were a parent or guardian to a school-aged child (4–18 years) who usually lived with them. A total of 1373 parents or guardians of children eligible to attend school completed this survey.
Key findings of the study are:
-Researchers observed that nearly half (46%, 95% CI 43% to 50%, n=370/803) of children in eligible school years had attended school and about half had not (54%, 95% CI 50% to 57%,n=432/803).
-The most common reasons for not sending a child to school were: thinking it was too risky for the child to attend school (n=223, 52%), the school not being open (n=140, 32%) and having another child who could not go to school (n=67, 16%).
-The most common reasons for sending a child to school were: the child's education would benefit (n=208, 56%), the child wants to go to school (n=200, 54%) and the child will benefit from seeing their friends (n=187, 51%)
-Of the child who had partial attendance , the most common reasons were the school offers them to be in part-time (n=80, 39%), it is less risky for them to be in part-time (n=40, 20%) and parent only sending them in on days where the lessons are important (n=28, 14%).
-A child was significantly more likely to attend if the parent believed the child had already had COVID-19, they had special educational needs or a person in the household had COVID-19 symptoms.
Findings of study support previous research by suggesting that during an infectious disease outbreak, parents' decision to send their child to school was impacted by the risk of disease (COVID-19), child's education and well-being.
Authors conclude-" Perceived benefits of education, risk of disease and children's well-being were the main drivers in determining parental decision to send them to school or not."
Source: Woodland L, Smith LE, Webster RK, et al Why did some parents not send their children back to school following school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-sectional survey BMJ Paediatrics Open 2021;5:e001014. doi: 10.1136/bmjpo-2020-001014