The impact of unplanned school closure on children's social contact: Rapid evidence review [article]

Samantha Brooks, Louise Smith, Rebecca Webster, Dale Weston, Lisa Woodland, Ian Hall, James Rubin
2020 medRxiv   pre-print
Emergency school closures are often used as public health interventions during infectious disease outbreaks in an attempt to minimise the spread of infection. However, if children continue to mix with others outside the home during the closures, these measures are unlikely to be effective. Objectives This review aimed to summarise existing literature on children's activities and contacts made outside the home during unplanned school closures. Methods We searched four databases from inception to
more » ... February 2020 for relevant literature. Main findings were extracted. Results 3,343 citations were screened and 19 included in the review. Activities and social contacts appeared to decrease during closures but contact was still common. All studies reported children leaving the house or being looked after by non-household members. There was some evidence that older child age and parental disagreement with closure were predictive of children leaving the house, and mixed evidence regarding the relationship between infection status and leaving the home. Parental agreement with closure was generally high, but some parents disagreed due to perceived low risk of infection and practical issues regarding childcare and financial impact. Conclusions Evidence suggests that many children continue to leave the house and mix with others during school closures despite public health recommendations to avoid social contact. This review of behaviour during unplanned school closures could be used to improve infectious disease modelling.
doi:10.1101/2020.03.17.20037457 fatcat:tcr7t2ip3rh7fkjuppijxd72di