COVID-19: Missing school could impact kids well into adulthood ─Study

*Absenteeism in early years of school has pretty far-reaching consequences for consumers

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As scores of authorities in several economies around the world attempt to reopen schools, colleges and universities for resumption of academic activities following the outbreak of COVID-19 epidemic and subsequent lockdowns, a new study conducted by researchers from the Ohio State University, United States (US), has explored the effects that regular absences in school can have on consumers entering adulthood.

The study revealed a correlation between kids who missed school often and greater difficulties in life in early adulthood, reports ConsumerAffairs.

The scientists found that missing school often was linked with poorer educational and financial situations, as well as a lower likelihood of participating in local and national elections.

Researcher Arya Ansari said: “There’s this misconception, especially among parents, that it doesn’t matter as much if kids miss school early on ─that it only becomes important when they get to middle or high school.

“This study shows that those early absences do matter, and in ways that many people don’t consider.”

Stressing the importance of school attendance, the study found that in order to understand the effect that school attendance can have on kids, the researchers analysed data from nearly 700 students involved in the Study of Early Childhood and Youth Development.

The students’ attendance records were tracked over the course of the study. When they reached their early twenties, they completed questionnaires about their lives up to that point.

The researchers learned that those who missed more days of school were affected in three main areas: education, finances, and civic engagement.

“Absenteeism in those early years of school has pretty far-reaching consequences. It goes beyond just affecting your education and how well you do in school,” said Ansari.

Likewise, having a solid attendance record in elementary and middle school was associated with better academic outcomes in high school.

Compared to those who missed school often, those with better attendance were more likely to continue on to college.

According to the researchers, missing so much school translated into poorer financial situations, as these students reported they had difficulties finding jobs and keeping up with their bills.

Lastly, voting, whether in local or national elections, was nearly five times more likely for students who didn’t miss as much school.

Ansari further stated: “If you start out being disengaged with school, you may end up being less engaged with society more broadly.

“We believe disengagement may be one of the key mechanisms linking early school absences to poorer outcomes in early adulthood.”

What role does the Coronavirus pandemic play?

Subsequent to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, many consumers have had to homeschool their children, according to the report.

Though this study didn’t take these unique circumstances into consideration, Ansari explained that these findings emphasise just how important it is for kids to be in school when that becomes possible again.

“These really are unprecedented times. All kids are absent.

With that said, the differential access to supports and resources will likely result in even greater variability in outcomes when students return to school after the pandemic.

“What this work suggests is that we should take absenteeism and its consequences more seriously,” Ansari stated.

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