Swedish study: open schools likely protected emotional well-being of middle school students
Findings highlight importance of “normalcy” for children
A recently published journal article concluding Swedish primary school children suffered no learning loss drew international attention, but foreign observers of Sweden’s responsible decision to keep most schools open may have missed a journal article published in December 2021 with good news about the emotional well-being of the country’s middle school students: they didn’t suffer more emotional problems during the early pandemic than would otherwise be expected “due to typical mean-level changes during development.”
Analyzing data from 30 middle schools in western Sweden, the “study’s aim was to compare Swedish middle school students’ (grade 4–5) psychosocial well-being before the pandemic to approximately a year into the pandemic.” The authors concluded that “when students continue attending school, their psychosocial well-being does not worsen as it does for students experiencing school closures.”
Students’ emotional problems showed no differences, whilst small differences in student’s relationships to significant others and factors of psychological adjustment may be partially due to typical mean-level changes during development (Meeus, 2016). Meaningful differences in students’ school adjustment are plausibly attributed to disruptions caused by the pandemic. Holistically, students do not seem to be doing poorly. This study together with Chen et al. (2021) has shown that when students continue attending school, their psychosocial well-being does not worsen as it does for students experiencing school closures (Cresswell et al., 2021; Viner et al., 2021).
The researchers compared data from October 2019-January 2020 (T1) to data from November 2020-February 2021 (T2):
We analyzed data from children in 30 middle schools in western Sweden belonging to the longitudinal Peer Relations In School from an Ecological perspective (PRISE) project (Skoog et al., 2019). Data were collected in October 2019–January 2020 (T1) prior to Sweden’s pandemic outbreak (first cases confirmed on 24/02/2020), and one year later (T2), when the weekly rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases varied from 20,000–46,000 during November 2020–February 2021. At T1, data were collected from 1006 fourth-grade students. At T2, during the pandemic, data were collected from 979 fifth-grade…