Teachers impacted differently by the COVID-19 lockdown

Lockdown affected most of us. Working from home might seem interesting and even convenient at first, but soon you find yourself trapped in one environment, which you didn’t optimize for your work. Some jobs are easier to do remotely than others too. Scientists at UCL decided to see how teachers coped with COVID-19 lockdown regime and found it didn’t affect their wellbeing too much.

Classrooms remained largely empty during the COVID-19 lockdown. Image credit: Rodhullandemu via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Scientists analyzed data, collected from around 8,000 teachers in England between September 2019 and September 2020. They wanted to see how lockdown regulations, which required teachers to start working from home, affected their performance and wellbeing. Scientists found that for one in 20 teachers this new regime created a lot of anxiety. In comparison, only one in 8 teachers felt highly anxious before the lockdown. However, at the same time scientists found that the wellbeing of teachers was, on average, unchanged during lockdown.

On the other hand, this is not to say that their mental health was unaffected by the global pandemic. Many teachers were actually feeling relaxed and energized during the height of the lockdown in April 2020. In fact, these positive aspects of mental health saw improvements during lockdown in comparison with the previous year. However, at the same time teachers felt less useful, optimistic about the future and interested in new things.

Scientists also noticed that the lockdown affected teachers from private and public schools a bit differently. 6 % of state teachers were able to deliver live teaching with student interaction in May 2020 – this number was 72 % for private schools. This may be related to different opportunities in terms of technology and finances. John Jerrim, co-author of the study, said: “The report also highlights the inequality in the types of teaching private and state school pupils received over the summer school term. This clearly has the potential to lead to further educational inequalities in pupil achievement, which could be further exacerbated this autumn if schools are forced to shut down again.”

Not all teachers felt equally anxious in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown. Women were affected more than men and parents were affected more than those who do not have children. Only some teachers were looking for help to cope with the new kinds of stress a bit easier, most remained in their old ways.

COVID-19 is a dangerous disease, but we cannot forget that the lockdown, which is necessary for its control, is affecting people as well. Public health institutions have to pay attention to the psychological condition of the population and address it if it is possible. Meanwhile people who are feeling overwhelmed with stress and anxiety should seek professional help.


Source: UCL

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