Epidemic lessons for child resilience

“They say it takes a village to raise a child, but the village has become depopulated. Hard times have increased from school losses to mental health problems. This is why it is important to create data to track the development of children through adulthood and to document steps to reduce risk factors. Ms. Côté Recently hosted by OPES, What is the impact of the epidemic on children? Was speaking at an international conference titled.

It all starts in school. Carla Hellermans, a professor of educational economics at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, is therefore interested in closing classes and its impact on young people. “Around 168 million children around the world have come home to learn. Repeated class closures and online schooling have had many negative effects on children’s learning, ”said the researcher.

His recent research found that homeschooling in the Netherlands has led to a lot of learning loss in reading, spelling and math, especially among the most vulnerable.

To address these disruptions, researchers conducted two standardized tests on 300,000 elementary school students in March 2021 and February 2022 – tests that are typically held six weeks earlier to assess learning. They compared the results collected three times before Covid (2017, 2019 and 2020). They have seen, for example, a 7-point drop in math and spelling in 2021 – and worse in math in 2022, when the first-year loss for spelling seems to have faded in 2022 for the second year.

But it is not the same for everyone. The results show significant disparities in parental education and income-based learning disadvantages, in addition to the inequalities that already exist before Covid-19, Carla Hellermans notes. “There was a loss for students of all groups but it was even worse for those whose parents were more disadvantaged. The strategies that have been put in place have not been able to catch up and it will take a long time to make up for what has been lost. A

The absence of catch-up in mathematics in February 2022, but also in learning something else, was a surprise for him, as it was less for the second year if the fall was expected for the first year. “It simply came to our notice then. The virus is still there and regularly disrupts the learning of many students. A

The epidemic has affected all students and even the most intelligent, added Christophe de Witte, a professor of economics at KU Leuven University in Belgium. “Many studies show that learning adds harm and inequality. We’ve seen a decline everywhere: in French, in mathematics, in science and in language. ” And although in Belgium, it shuts down in math and science, a year later, “it continues to decline in language,” the researchers report.

The same goes for Quebec

The same thing in Quebec. “We are seeing a decline: 69% success in 2021 compared to 77% in 2019. This varies by school, as the more education they stop or face, the less they manage to maintain their level,” the professor notes. In the economics section of UQAM, Katherine Heck.

He presented (to be published) the results of a study on learning and teaching in an epidemic context, at the OPES Symposium with his colleague Simon Lorez from the Department of Teaching and Learning in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Laval University.

Conducted as part of their Resilience in Learning project, which brings together 275 schools and 12,000 children, the study analyzes the Ministry of Education’s 2019 exams, which target 4-year-olds.e The year 2021 has passed. “There is no change in those who have performed well, while there is a drop in those who are already performing less well in school. A

Katherine Heck notes that school delays are reduced if the school is often open; One factor is associated with increased motivation among students. He noted a relationship between school results and low parental income. More disadvantaged children have had a harder time coping with the epidemic.

In addition to the 70 days of primary school closure during the first captivity, it has been closed repeatedly. These missed days are already being felt by those who fight the most on school benches. “A gap is widening between the average student and those who are more vulnerable. There are many delays in reading, from 2e Grade school, and many students don’t even hold their pencils properly. There are also drops in Inspiration 3e The cycle “, in turn, introduces the teacher of St. Joseph’s School in St.-Adele, Helen Lecavalier.

What do young people go through …

And the problem doesn’t stop learning. “At the school level, there is a decrease in interpersonal skills, an increase in stress and a greater lack of respect for students towards their peers and even staff,” the teacher added.

All of these disruptions are warning signs that young people’s mental health has been damaged.

Certainly, several mental health experts have already seen an increase in anxiety and depression symptoms among high school youth during the epidemic. Mary-Claude Geoffrey, an assistant professor of psychiatry at McGill University, notes that this is not a recent problem.

Researchers report that suicide attempts increased from 6 to 9% between 2009 and 2019 and from 11% to 19% for suicidal ideation in the same years.

“The discomfort of the youth was present before the health crisis. However, it has been somewhat reinforced with the rise in anxiety and suicidal ideation (one in four young men) among adolescents, especially girls. Even the weakest have become more anxious, ”Pre Geoffrey summed up.

For young adults (18-25 years old), a recent study found that one year after the epidemic, severe depression increased by 6% to 9% and among those suffering from moderate anxiety increased by 10 to 14%. “Let’s also keep in mind that 70% of mental health problems occur before the age of 25 and therefore, we must increase access to resources for the youngest,” notes Pre Geoffrey.

Since 2013, researchers in the COMPASS project have intensively examined some of the youngest Quebecers in high school. “We have also seen an increase in inequality during health crises: more difficulties in school and higher levels of mental health symptoms, especially among young girls aged 15-16 from disadvantaged backgrounds,” said Dr. Slim. Haddad, full professor at the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Laval.

The research project, originally developed by the University of Waterloo (Ontario), will bring together 50,000 young people from 113 schools or 6 regions of Quebec in 2022. Through regular 45-minute questionnaires with 1 to 5 students in secondary, the researchers collected information on their health, diet, learning and behavior, such as spending time in front of a screen, physical activity or drug use.

Researchers have a way of evaluating the effectiveness of health promotion interventions on students, as they can follow them throughout high school.

Because many researchers these days have reminded us that we must measure in order to work. “This is a hybrid project and not just a research project. We want to promote communities of practice and develop interaction between schools and their communities, for example through innovative competitions, and to test the impact of steps taken with young people, ”Dr. Haddad added.

“We haven’t been able to cope with the epidemic for so long, so how do we balance the risk of disease with the impact on society,” asked the full professor of microbiology, infectivity and immunology and pediatrics at the University of Montreal in Caroline. Koch-than.

He is no longer working at Silo to advocate for the importance of monitoring education and health, sustaining important data-providing tools, but monitoring our election bias. “We need to have the entire population in our data, including the most vulnerable,” he added.

Out of crisis

What could be the strategy to mitigate the negative consequences of the epidemic?

Many experts have emphasized the importance of keeping schools open despite the spread of the virus. “Quebec, for example, has kept its schools longer than in Ontario, and despite concerns, it was the right decision to take,” said Nicolas Magellier, assistant deputy minister for education at Quebec.

“The school represents a safety net for vulnerable and disadvantaged students,” said Dominic Bertrand, director general of the Marguerite-Bourgeois School Service Center.

It depends on the teachers first. “A well-equipped teacher means 80% of the students are able to succeed. For others, targeted (15%) or more individual (5%) approaches are required. We must pay for teaching staff and not solve problems through incompetent replacements, ”continued Dominic Bertrand.

At St. Adele Elementary School, where Helen Lecavalier teaches, “Adding reading support services with an intern three times a week has helped a lot since the fall. We have also made a pair between the young and the old, ”the teacher explained.

Tutoring, mentioned several times, will also be one of the important mitigation measures. “We have been thinking about educational mutual support and tutoring for approximately 170,000 students since January 2021 to respond to special situations and its challenges,” notes Nicholas Magellia.

Workhorse by Professor Simon LaRos of Tutoring University Laval. He presented the FORTUNE project (tutoring training for new and future teachers): “This is a program created jointly with all school stakeholders. Its goal is to develop multidisciplinary knowledge (similarities, how to start a relationship, pedagogy, essential content, etc.) and research evidence. ” Early next fall, the project, linked to the initial French program, will be tested in 30 Quebec schools, which will be evaluated in 2023-24, before large-scale deployments across the province.

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