Returning to school: children and young people living with chronic illness

Nicola J. Gray, Didier Jourdan, Janet E. McDonagh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The reopening of schools during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is full of challenges for families, which are heightened for children and young people (CYP) who live with chronic illnesses. This paper aims to offer a framework to support the successful return of CYP with chronic illnesses to school using appropriate intersectoral strategies. Design/methodology/approach: This paper draws on research data on the impact of school closure on CYP with chronic illness and emerging findings of global research about their lives during the pandemic. It is also informed by the perspectives of practitioners in the field, who are working with these CYP and their families. Findings: A framework based on three different strategies for a successful return is established. A small but significant group of CYP living with conditions such as cancer will not yet return and will need ongoing home education provision. CYP with well-controlled symptoms of chronic illness will benefit from school routines and socialization with peers. CYP with poorly controlled illness will need close supervision and individual plans. All groups will benefit from better intersectoral working across education and health and from recent rapid developments in hybrid learning models and telemedicine. Originality/value: This viewpoint highlights the need for a strategic approach to the return to school of CYP with chronic illness that goes well beyond classifying them as vulnerable students. This group of CYP is already at risk of lower educational attainment, so widening inequalities must be halted. This paper provides a framework for anchoring local intersectoral approaches adapted to the different situations of CYP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-241
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Children's Services
Issue number4
Early online date25 Sep 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


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