27 August 2020
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today (27 August 2020) published the results of its Social Impact of COVID-19 Survey August 2020: The Reopening of Schools.
The survey was divided into a number of sections and includes topics, such as the impact that enforced school closures has had on primary and secondary school students’ education, concerns related to returning to school and the potential impacts if schools have to close again in the coming academic year. The survey also included questions on personal well-being and compliance with the government’s current advice and guidelines regarding COVID-19.
Commenting on the results, Statistician, Stephen Lee said:
‘The enforced closure of schools in March 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions brought about changes to the lives of school children and their parents/guardians over the period from March to June. Children’s learning and social development were impacted with children undertaking learning at home and interacting with their teacher and class mates in different ways.
Parents and guardians with children in primary and secondary school were first asked to rate the impact that being away from school since March has had on their child’s learning and social development.
More than four in ten (40.7%) respondents with children in primary school and 45.7% of respondents with children in secondary schools reported that enforced school closures had a ‘Major’ or ‘Moderate’ negative impact on their child’s learning. When it comes to the impact that school closures have had on the social development of school-going children, 42.2% of respondents with primary school children and 43.2% with secondary school children reported a ‘Major’ or ‘Moderate’ negative impact.
More than two in three (67.0%) respondents with a child due to sit the Leaving Certificate in 2021 reported that enforced school closures had a ‘Major’ or ‘Moderate’ negative impact on their child’s learning and more than half (53.3%) reported a ‘Major’ or ‘Moderate’ impact on their child’s social development.
Parents and guardians were asked the average number of hours per day their school-going child spent on learnings activities including worksheets, online lessons or other materials provided by their school during the period of enforced school closure. Two in three (66.6%) respondents with primary school children, and 41.3% respondents with secondary school students, reported that their child spent ‘two hours or less’ on learning activities provided by their school during this period. See Chapter Impact of Enforced School Closures.
Charting feelings around the reopening of schools, parents and guardians of school going children were asked how concerned they are about their children returning to school. Almost one in three (32.0%) respondents reported being ‘Extremely’ or ‘Very’ concerned about their child’s school providing a safe environment in the context of COVID-19.
Of survey respondents with children of school going age, 6.5% reported having a child that was due to attend either pre-school, primary school or secondary school in the coming academic year but would now not be doing so due to COVID-19 concerns.
Almost one in five (19.6%) respondents who are parents or guardians reported having a child that is ‘Extremely’ or ‘Very’ worried about returning to school, with ‘Catching or Spreading COVID-19’ the most common worry.
In relation to school transport, 7.0% of respondents who are parents or guardians of primary or secondary school children have arranged an alternative to public transport and school buses due to COVID-19 concerns. See Chapter Returning to School.
Parents and guardians of school-going children were asked a series of questions about the impact of possible school closures in the coming academic year. More than one in two employed parents or guardians of primary school children reported that their work pattern may be affected by a school closure, with 16.9% of female respondents reporting that they ‘May have to give up work’ compared to 3.9% of males.
In the event of another school closure, three in ten (29.7%). respondents who are parents or guardians of Leaving Cert students report being ‘Extremely’ concerned about their children’s school providing adequate supports to cover the Leaving Certificate syllabus. The comparable rate for the Junior Certificate was 14.6%
More than one in five (21.5%) respondents who are parents or guardians of primary children report being ‘Extremely’ concerned about providing support to help their child with home learning (e.g. helping with homework).
Parents and guardians of primary and secondary school children were asked a series of questions around the suitability of the home environment for home learning. Respondents living in rural areas are approximately seven times more likely not to have suitable broadband speed to support online learning compared to those living in urban areas (28.8% and 3.9% respectively). Almost eight in ten (78.5%) respondents with secondary school pupils reported that each child had a suitable device for home learning compared to 71.9% of respondents with primary school pupils. See Chapter If schools were to close.
All respondents with school going children were asked if they would avail of a COVID-19 vaccine for their child and respondents with pre-school and primary school children were asked if they would avail of the free flu vaccine that will be available for 2-12-year olds this winter. Almost two in three (66.2%) respondents reported that they would be ‘Very’ or ‘Somewhat’ likely to avail of a COVID-19 vaccine for their school-going children if one were available and 67.3% of respondents who are parents or guardians of a child in pre-school or primary school reported that they would be ‘Very’ or ‘Somewhat’ likely to avail of the free flu vaccine. See Chapter Vaccines.
The Social Impact of COVID-19 survey August 2020 also asked all respondents (not just those with school children) to rate their compliance with current government advice and guidelines regarding COVID-19. This continues a series of compliance statistics from April and June 2020.
In August 2020, just over three in four (75.4%) of respondents rated their compliance with current government advice and guidelines as ‘High’. This rate is higher than the rate in June when the country was just about to enter Phase 3 of the Roadmap for reopening society (59.9%) but lower than the April rate (80.6%).’ See Chapter Compliance and Well-Being.
The “Social Impact of COVID-19 August 2020: The Reopening of Schools" Survey published today utilised an online electronic questionnaire to produce a final achieved sample size of 1,333 individuals. Further details on the methodology can be found in the Background Notes.
Stephen Lee (087 0923235) (+353) 21 453 5045 or Brian Cahill (087 6280807) (+353) 21 453 5173
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