Retour des enfants à l’école : intentions des parents d’enfants de Laval en contexte de pandémie (COVID-19)

By July 2020, 55,000 people had been infected with COVID-19 in Quebec and 5,500 people had died. School closures were identified early in the pandemic as a key measure to curb the spread of the virus. Since then, studies have shown that closing schools can have negative consequences for children and that other social distancing measures are more effective. Nevertheless, the return to school in September 2020 has been a major source of anxiety for many parents.

In this study based on an innovative experimental approach, Roxane Borges da Silva and colleagues show that simple outreach tools and clear, evidence-based information can impact the choices parents make for their children's well-being and safety. Parents of children attending an elementary or secondary school at the Centre de services scolaires de Laval (CSSL) were invited to participate in the study. By surveying parents about their perceptions and intentions, the authors found that the proportion of parents intending to return their child to school increased by 10 percentage points after reading reliable information, while the proportion of parents not intending to return their child to school decreased by 18 percentage points.

Parents' level of concern related to COVID-19 was found to be a key determinant of intention to return their child to school. This study demonstrates the importance of reassuring and informing parents about the risk factors for developing severe COVID-19 in children. Publicizing the evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on the pediatric population and the recommendations of medical associations may change parents' decision to return their children to school.

The authors conducted another CIRANO study, but for a population of parents of children with asthma.

→ Linked Project Report: Retour des enfants à l'école : intentions des parents d'enfants asthmatiques en contexte de pandémie (COVID-19)

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