School Life during Covid-19

About the study

The School Life during Covid-19 study is part of the CoMMinS study. The project is exploring how Covid-19 mitigation measures such as hand hygiene, social distancing, ventilation, mask wearing and school closures have affected the mental health and wellbeing of pupils and staff.

This study will also examined approaches taken by schools to ensure good mental wellbeing of pupils, and how they identified and addressed the issues that arose.

Students outdoors during lockdown

The study used online and phone interviews to explore the views and attitudes of members of the school community.

We aimed to provide evidence for the development of strategies to help schools:

  • provide an emotionally safe and nurturing environment
  • enable teachers, parents and pupils to support each other as a resilient school community during and after the Covid-19 pandemic


The School Life Study interviewed a total of 45 staff and pupils to explore their experiences of COVID-19 school mitigation measures, and how they impacted their sense of physical safety and mental health and wellbeing.

It was found that there were challenges to implementing the measures (issues with the Department of Education guidance, issues with additional work and responsibilities put on staff to deliver health and safety procedures, and barriers to implementation such as poor compliance). Four approaches were identified that supported physical safety and implementation:

  • enforcing compliance
  • encouraging cooperation
  • addressing consistency and clarity in messages and practices

Findings indicated that the mitigation measures did not improve physical safety in schools and had a negative impact on mental health and wellbeing of staff and pupils. There were also wider negative implications on teaching and learning, pastoral care and safeguarding provision, and socio-emotional experiences.

Recommendations for supporting mental health and wellbeing in the school community included operating an ‘open door approach’ for staff and pupils to access support when needed, reducing workload burden on staff, and minimising change and disruption.

Contact the researchers

If you have any questions about this research, please email Dr Sarah Bell or Jane Williams:

About the research team

Dr Sabi Redwood (University of Bristol)

Sabi Redwood is co-leading work examining mental wellbeing in schools. She brings expertise in qualitative social science methods, patient and public involvement, participatory community-based approaches, and healthcare interventions.

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Dr Jeremy Horwood (University of Bristol)

Dr Jeremy Horwood

Jeremy Horwood is co-leading work examining mental wellbeing in schools. He is an Associate Professor of Social Sciences and Health, with extensive expertise in qualitative method.

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Dr Sarah Bell

Dr Sarah Bell

Sarah Bell is a Senior Research Associate in Qualitative Research who will be conducting the interviews for the School Life during Covid-19 Study. She has a background in education (Primary Teacher), and her research interest is public health with a focus on young people.

Jane Williams

Jane is a Senior Research Associate in Qualitative Research who will be conducting the interviews for the School Life during Covid-19 Study. Jane has a background in sport/health psychology.