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Parent, Child Well-Being Affected by Schooling Mode During COVID-19

THURSDAY, March 18, 2021 -- Children not receiving in-person school instruction and their parents have worse mental, emotional, and physical health outcomes, according to research published in the March 19 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Jorge V. Verlenden, Ph.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues examined differences in child and parent experiences and indicators of well-being according to children's mode of school instruction using the COVID Experiences nationwide survey. Parents or legal guardians of children aged 5 to 12 years were surveyed during Oct. 8 to Nov. 13, 2020, via a panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population.

The researchers found that 45.7. 30.9, and 23.4 percent of the 1,290 respondents with a child enrolled in public or private school reported that their child received virtual instruction, in-person instruction, and combined instruction, respectively. Findings were worse for parents of children receiving virtual or combined instruction than those receiving in-person instruction for 11 of 17 stress and well-being indicators concerning child mental health and physical activity and parental emotional distress.

"Children receiving virtual or combined instruction and their parents might need additional support to mitigate stress, including linkage to social and mental health services and opportunities to engage in safe physical activity to reduce risks associated with chronic health conditions," the authors write. "These findings highlight the importance of in-person learning for children's physical and mental well-being and for parents' emotional well-being."

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