CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)

The surveys addressed how the following factors among children and parents have been impacted by COVID-19:

 Children

  • Physical and mental health
  • Emotional well-being
  • Health services
  • Educational services
  • Health-promoting activities and behaviors
  • Psychosocial stressors and adverse experiences

Parents/Legal Guardians of Children ages 5-12

  • Psychosocial stressors and adverse experiences
  • Access to educational and health care services
  • Emotional well-being and mental health 

Key findings from the MMWR report include:

  • Approximately 70% of parents in this study reported their children participated in virtual-only or combined instruction.
  • Overall, for 11 of 17 indicators concerning child mental health, physical activity, and parental emotional distress, findings were worse for parents of children receiving virtual-only or combined instruction than for parents of children receiving in-person instruction.
  • Parents of children receiving virtual-only or combined instruction were more likely to report that their children’s mental or emotional health had worsened, and their physical activity and time outside had decreased.
  • Approximately 30% of parents reported their children receiving in-person only instruction. These parents reported the lowest prevalence of negative indicators of child and parent well-being.
  • Parents whose children attended school in-person only were less likely to report issues with employment and childcare.
  • Virtual instruction was far more commonly reported by Hispanic (67%) and Black (55%) parents than by White (32%) parents.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the world what we already knew—schools play a crucial role in the health of students and their families. Students not attending school in-person and their families may have trouble accessing health services that could buffer the stress of the pandemic. Families with children in virtual environments and within communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19, including racial and ethnic minorities, may need additional community support to equitably access programs and services that can reduce the impact of COVID-19 related stressors. With the help of our partners, CDC wants to support families and help students thrive whether they attend school virtually or in person.

CDC is funding school districts to hire mental health staff and support non-government organizations to create mental health tools as well as promote school connectedness in response to long-term school closures. We must help schools as they provide not only education but critical services to students and families.

One of the best investments we can make is in our youth. We can work together to give children and adolescents the healthy start they deserve.

Click here to read the full report.