School closures during lockdown is a much-debated subject. Already in June 2020, we worked together with the ifo Institute, to find out how German children spend their time when their schools (during term-time) are closed. At that time, only a small percentage of schools had introduced regular distance learning. Over the summer and autumn months, schools and teachers had time to adapt to digital teaching methods. Did the school children profit from the experience gained by schools and teachers, when the schools closed again in early 2021?
To answer this question, we surveyed more than 2,000 parents again in February and March 2021 on behalf of the ifo Institute. On average, students spent 4.3 hours per day on school-related activities in early 2021. This is nearly 45 minutes more than in spring 2020, but still 3 hours less than a typical pre-pandemic school day. Nearly one in four school children (23%) engaged in school-related activities for less than two hours a day.
The first school closures led to major psychological stress for 38% of children, and by early 2021 this figure had increased to about half of the children. Nevertheless, there are also positive effects: More than half of parents said their child was able to study more independently (56%) and was now more proficient in digital technologies (66%).
The detailed results of the study are published in the ifo Institute report.