The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence of child behavior, academic and sleep concerns, and parent stress and depression symptoms during COVID-19; to test associations of parent-child well-being with child school format; and to examine effect moderation by child race/ethnicity and material hardship.
A total of 305 English-speaking parents of elementary school-age children completed online surveys regarding demographics, child school format, behavior, learning-related experiences, sleep, and parent stress and depression symptoms. Multivariable linear and logistic regression analyses examined associations of school format with child and parent outcomes.
Children were aged 5.00 to 10.99 years, with 27.8% underrepresented minority race/ethnicity. Per parental report, 27.7% attended school in-person, 12.8% hybrid, and 59.5% remote. In multivariable models, compared with children receiving in-person instruction, children receiving remote instruction exhibited more hyperactivity (β 0.94 [95% confidence interval, 0.18–1.70]), peer problems (β 0.71 [0.17–1.25]), and total behavioral difficulties (β 2.82 [1.11–4.53]); were less likely to show academic motivation (odds ratio [OR] 0.47 [0.26–0.85]) and social engagement (OR 0.13 [0.06–0.25]); were more likely to show schoolwork defiance (OR 2.91 [1.56–5.40]); and had a later sleep midpoint (β 0.37 [0.18–0.56]) and higher odds of cosleeping (OR 1.89 [1.06–3.37]). Associations of remote learning with behavior difficulties were stronger for children without material hardships.
Children receiving remote and hybrid instruction were reported to have more difficulties compared with children receiving in-person instruction. Children with material hardships showed more behavior challenges overall but less associated with school format. Therefore, planning for a return to in-person learning should also include consideration of family supports.