The COVID-HL School Survey

The goals of the COVID-HL School Survey

The COVID-HL School Survey

The COVID-19 pandemic is associated with far-reaching changes in society and requires individuals and systems to adapt to meet the demands associated with this unprecedented public health emergency. As a result of the school closures, the education sector is affected in multiple ways. School closures have led to children and adolescents being deprived of one of the core settings for development, interaction, and socialisation. The switch from face-to-face classroom learning in schools to homeschooling via online learning and virtual platforms brings a high risk that educational inequities have greater impact on those child and adolescent groups that are already socially and economically disadvantaged. These inequalities are further multiplied as children and young people from poor social backgrounds experience adversities that are worsened by COVID-19 e.g. the digital divide. Disadvantaged children and adolescents have limited access to computers or the internet, and sometimes their parents are not able to support their learning. This adds up to a situation where learning has become more difficult and educational outcomes cannot be achieved, further reinforcing educational inequities.

Beyond the impact on educational development and outcomes, school closures are associated with increased health risk and negative consequences and worse health outcomes for children and adolescents. Since the pandemic started, some research has been conducted in child and adolescent populations. However, there is very limited research available exploring the effects of the pandemic on school and educational professionals. This is surprising given that schoolteachers are exposed to a whole new working situation and environment with numerous challenges they have to master (e.g. shift in teaching and learning due to the pandemic), associated with an increased likelihood of negative health outcomes for teachers as well as students. Even less attention is paid to school principals, who are responsible for all aspects of the school life and therefore have to cope with particularly high demands as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pre-pandemic research shows that school principals report high work-related stress and more frequently psychological and physical burden compared to other professional groups. In addition, it is well known that there is an association between teacher health and teaching quality. In this context, the COVID-HL School Principals Survey aims at exploring burden and stress that school principals and school administrators (e.g., deputy principals or members of the school management team) experience in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, the study focuses on the following research questions:

  1. What is the level of work-related stress for school principals during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  2. How are school principals dealing with work-related stress? To what extent school principals apply maladaptive coping strategies at the workplace?
  3. What is the mental health situation of school principals?
  4. What is the relationship between the current working situation of school principals and their mental health?

Furthermore, most research in context of COVID-19 is characterised by a pathogenetic focus on risk factors, while the discussion of necessary health resources according to health promotion is fairly limited.

Supported by the World Health Organization, the Health Promoting School (HPS) is considered the most promising approach to promote and maintain good health and wellbeing in the school setting. In contrast to behavioural interventions, the HPS framework is rooted in a determinants-based and structural approach, referring to a holistic intervention approach in which health is promoted in a systematic and asset-based way. HPS is aiming at different levels of the school (teaching, organization, staff, school environment) and involves all relevant groups inside and outside school such as teachers, school leaders, and schoolchildren, as well as parents and school related stakeholders. In context of school closures and restrictions, the question arises whether and to what extent health-promoting measures are currently undertaken by the school.

In addition to the implementation of health promoting activities, there are a number of other (work-related) resources: Health literacy, the ability to access, understand, appraise, and apply health information, has shown to be highly relevant to navigate the complex information environments and to deal with the over-abundance of information in relation to COVID-19. Moreover, there is an association between higher levels of health literacy in school principals and the degree to which health promotion activities are implemented in the school setting. Sense of Coherence (SoC) is the main concept of the salutogenesis theory and can be described as a global orientation towards viewing one’s life as comprehensible, manageable, and meaningful. SoC is particularly relevant in stressful and demanding situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and therefore a useful capability for school principals. A positive attitude towards work is regarded as an important health resource that enables an individual to better cope with stress and burden (e.g., stress and burden resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic). Therefore, in addition the following research question will be pursued by this study.

  1. What is the SoC level of school principals in the time of COVID-19?
  2. What is the level of corona-specific health literacy among school principals?
  3. Are there any associations between SoC and health literacy and school principals’ health?
  4. What school health promotion measures are implemented in schools during COVID-19?

Who conducts this survey?

We are currently in the process of survey planning and to invite members from the COVID-HL consortium and other networks. We will report further updates here.

How is this survey conducted?

The survey is implemented as an online survey. Different online tools are used in the participating countries. The greatest attention is paid to data protection and data security. All tools and web servers used are subject to high data protection and security requirements. All data are transmitted via an encrypted connection using the secure encryption protocol „https“.

Who is the target group of this survey?

This survey focus on school principals and on members of the school management board (e.g. vice principal) from public and private primary and secondary schools.

How long does it take to fill out the questionnaire?

It will take about 20 minutes to answer the questionnaire.

Do I have to participate the survey?

No! Participation in the online study is, of course, voluntary and anonymous, i.e. the data cannot be assigned to the respondents. Even if you do not participate, this does not have any disadvantages for you. Before you start answering the questionnaire, you will receive essential information. Only when you have given your consent to participate, you will be taken to the online questionnaire.

What happens with the data?

The applicable data protection regulations are met at all times. The collection of personal data is kept to a minimum and your anonymity is guaranteed at all times. The data is accordingly encrypted and stored securely and only processed by skilled and experienced researchers of the study team.