The CovEx survey was administered online or via telephone during October 8–November 13, 2020, to parents of children aged 5–12 years (1,561) using NORC’s AmeriSpeak panel. A sample of adults in the AmeriSpeak panel identified as potential respondents was selected using sampling strata based on age, race/ethnicity, education, and sex of the adult. Parents with multiple children were asked to report on their children? aged 5–12 years at the most recent birthday. Analyses were limited to parents of children attending a public or private school during the 2020–21 school year.

Based on the parent report of the mode of school instruction, three unweighted categories were constructed: in-person (434), virtual only (530), and combined (326). The final sample included 1,290 parents of children, 1,169 (92.9%) of whom were enrolled in public school and 121 (7.1%) enrolled in private school. Parents were asked to report on both their own and their children’s well-being and experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • Parents whose children received virtual only or combined instruction were more likely to report higher prevalence of risk on 11 of 17 indicators of child and parental well-being than were parents whose children received in-person instruction.
  • Parents of children receiving virtual only or combined instruction more frequently reported that their child’s mental or emotional health worsened during the pandemic.
  • Parents of children receiving virtual-only or combined instructions were more likely to report that their children experienced decreased physical activity and time outside.
  • Children receiving fully in-person instruction and their parents reported the lowest prevalence of negative indicators of child and parent well-being.
  • Parents whose children attended school in person only were less likely to report issues with employment and childcare.
  • Virtual only instruction was also more commonly reported by Hispanic (66%), non-Hispanic other/multiracial (64%), and non-Hispanic Black (55%) parents than by non-Hispanic White parents (32%).