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Impacts of School Closures on Physical and Mental Health of Children and Young People

A Systematic Review


The well-documented links between education and health mean that school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to be associated with significant health harms to children and young people (CYP). A systematic review of the evidence is needed to inform policy decisions around school closures and re-openings during the pandemic. We undertook a high-quality systematic review of observational quantitative studies (published or preprint) of the impacts of school closures (for any reason) on the health, wellbeing and educational outcomes of CYP, excluding impacts of closure on transmission of infection (PROSPERO CRD42020181658). We used a machine learning approach for screening articles, with decisions on inclusion and data extraction performed independently by 2 researchers. Quality was assessed for study type. A narrative synthesis of results was undertaken as data did not allow meta-analysis. 16,817 records were screened, of which 151 were reviewed in full-text and 72 studies were included from 20 countries. Cause of closure in all studies was the first COVID-19 pandemic wave with the exception of 5 influenza studies and 1 teacher strike. Data suggested marked rises in screen-time and social media use and reductions in physical activity however data on sleep and diet were inconclusive. Available data suggested likely higher harms in CYP from more deprived populations. School closures as part of broader social distancing measures are associated with considerable harms to CYP health and wellbeing. Available data are short-term and longer-term harms are likely to be magnified by further school closures. Data are urgently needed on longer-term impacts using strong research designs, particularly amongst vulnerable groups. These findings are important for policy-makers seeking to balance the risks of transmission through school-aged children with the harms of closing schools.


Distance-Schooling, Gesundheitspsychologie, Kinder- und Jugendalter allgemein, Lebenssituation, (Literatur-)Review


Viner, Russell, Russell, Simon, Saulle, Rosella, Croker, Helen, Stansfeld, Claire, Packer, Jessica, Nicholls, Dasha, Goddings, Anne-Lise, Bonell, Chris, Hudson, Lee, Hope, Steven, Schwalbe, Nina, Morgan, Anthony, Minozzi, Silvia (2021). Impacts of School Closures on Physical and Mental Health of Children and Young People. A Systematic Review.

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