Children in remote school faced more sleep, behavior and social challenges: Researchers compare experiences between families whose children were in-person, remote or hybrid school a year after the pandemic began

Millions of children spent months, even more than a year, attending school virtually from kitchen tables, bedrooms and laptops during the pandemic.

And this shift to computer-based learning may have led to negative consequences for younger kids, suggests a new Michigan Medicine study of a sample of families in Michigan.

Elementary school-aged children enrolled in remote learning experienced greater behavioral, learning-related, and sleep difficulties compared with children receiving in-person instruction, according to the findings in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

Researchers surveyed roughly 300 parents with children ages 5 to 10 — ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade — across the state between February and March 2021.

“In the early days of learning about how the virus spread and who was at risk, everyone made the best decisions they could with the information they had,” said lead author Kimberley Levitt, M.D., developmental behavioral pediatrician at University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Michigan Medicine researcher.

“We wanted to explore differences in parent and child well-being at a time when some school districts had returned to in-person school, while others remained remote or hybrid.”

An estimated more than 55 million students in the U.S. were impacted by a change in school formats during spring 2020 of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many in fully remote school that school year.

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