Experiences of professionals with student well-being during COVID-19 – Lessons learned for the post-pandemic period

Miranda Beck, Nicola Gray, Didier Jourdan, Catherine Chabot, Terje Andreas Eikemo

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review

Abstract

Background. To understand the impact of the pandemic, and contribute to the evidence-base to build healthy and resilient schools, the UNESCO Chair ‘Global Health and Education’ (GHE) undertook the ‘Safe reopening of schools’ study from January to October 2021. This abstract explores the consequences of school closures and infection control measures on student mental health and well-being during COVID-19 from the perspectives of health and education professionals.

Methodology. A multilingual online survey of global health and education professionals was promoted by the UNESCO Chair GHE and partners via email and social media. Survey respondents were invited to opt into a follow-up online interview. Qualitative analysis was undertaken of a relevant subset of free-text survey responses and interview transcripts from the combined English and French language dataset.

Results. 103 survey responses from 26 countries/territories, and 10 semi-structured interviews with professionals from 10 countries/territories, were included in this analysis. According to these professionals, school closures and infection control measures during COVID-19 had negative consequences on student well-being. Online learning was cited as a driver for increased mental distress among most students, but a minority of students preferred it. Infection control measures were also experienced positively as an enabler to keep schools open, which could mitigate their perception as being restrictive.

Conclusion. Adolescent mental health issues in times of crisis are major. The study showed that professionals are aware of these issues and, in the field, are very creative in their efforts to improve student well-being. These findings support the need to explore alternatives to closing schools and transitioning to online learning during a crisis. Keeping schools open, with context-adapted infection control measures and empowered local education and health professionals, could limit adverse consequences for student well-being.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDevelopmental and Adolescent Health
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 16 Oct 2022
Event22nd International Association for Adolescent Health (IAAH) European Regional Conference: Youth Development Challenges in the post-COVID-19 era - Athens, Greece
Duration: 5 Oct 20227 Oct 2022
Conference number: 22

Cite this