Parent Experiences of Remote Learning (PERL)

Study at UC Riverside

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The PERL Study was designed to examine the mental health and educational risks of COVID-19 on families of school-aged children in the Inland Empire.  

 

COVID-19 has caused an unprecedented disruption to K-12 education. When the pandemic hit its first peak, in-person instruction was suddenly replaced with remote learning, or the education of children at home. In the United States, 55 million school-age children under the age of 18 were forced to stay home, without daily access to schools or the basic supports that they provide. The shutdown of schools, compounded by the associated public health and economic crises, posed major challenges across the nation. 

 

In the Inland Empire of Southern California, pre-existing socioeconomic and health disparities threaten to exacerbate consequences of school closures. To put this in context, at least 885,000 school-aged children were affected by the shutdown in this region. While adverse effects of school closures were likely felt by all families in our community, we know that the impact has been disproportionately higher among certain groups. For instance, children with special education needs have experienced a significant reduction in support services that they rely on, and children in low-income or rural areas, as well as those from minority groups, have endured worsened issues of equity. These subgroups of children and their families are likely facing a collision of crises and are under tremendous stress. Yet, the exact impact of COVID-19 and its cascading effects on learning and mental health in the Inland Empire are still unknown. 

 

With my colleagues in the School of Education and School of Medicine at UCR, our overall goal is to better understand how families of school-aged children in the Inland Empire have been coping with COVID, and to track the pandemic’s downstream effects. To accomplish this, our research is designed to be interdisciplinary, providing perspectives from education, psychiatry, and the community that are essential to mitigating family health issues and disparities worsened by COVID-19 school closures. 

With thanks to our community and academic partners, over 5,000 individuals responded to our invitation to participate. The need for longitudinal research has been highlighted as a priority for the pandemic. In the context of remote learning, child and family issues are likely to be present for longer and peak later than the pandemic itself, and therefore, we will utilize this large sample to conduct a longitudinal research design, with data collection occurring monthly over a six-month period. 

 

This study generates a new opportunity to empirically explore lived experiences as a step towards determining the impact of COVID-19 on families and children. Findings from this research will: 

  • assess capacities for stress mitigation in our community, 

  • contribute to our understanding of the underlying mechanisms through which disparities emerge, and 

  • elucidate pathways to family resilience in the face of global crises.

 

Together with our community and academic partners, we hope to develop creative solutions that meet the needs of diverse families with school-aged children in the Inland Empire. For more information on the PERL Study, please contact Dr. Yasamin Bolourian.

 

Mental health and educational risks through the lens of disparities: Elevating family resilience during Covid-19. (2021-2022). Grant funded by the Center for Health Disparities Research (HDR@UCR) (https://healthdisparities.ucr.edu) NIMHD award U54 MD013368. Sub-Award: J. Blacher, PI; Y. Bolourian, R. Lee, co-PIs.