Coronavirus: ABS study reveals three in four families kept kids home from school

Jayne Trustum with her sons Tyler, 10, and Hunter, 7, said the family had found learning and working remotely difficult. Picture: Elesa Kurtz
Jayne Trustum with her sons Tyler, 10, and Hunter, 7, said the family had found learning and working remotely difficult. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Three quarters of Australian families with kids kept them home from school due to coronavirus, and the majority of those parents made changes to their work life.

In the latest glance into household life during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Bureau of Statistics found 76 per cent of parents kept their kids home and altered work arrangements to care for them.

Thirty-eight per cent worked from home, 22 per cent reduced or changed work hours and 13 per cent took leave.

Women were almost three times more likely to have stayed home to look after kids than men.

Jayne Trustum and her husband have been working alternating weeks between the office and home as seven-year-old Hunter and 10-year-old Tyler learned remotely.

Ms Trustum found juggling work commitments with supervising her sons difficult, and often found herself catching up on things at the end of the day.

"It was really hard," Ms Trustum said.

"The way school set it up, I think, was really good, but you still need to provide them that guidance.

"You've still got to make sure they're sitting and listening to the video and doing what's required of them.

"When you've got meetings throughout the day and phone calls and briefs you have to write, trying to prioritise is really hard.

"There were a few days were my work did have to take priority."

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Like many families, she was apprehensive to send her kids to school in the last two weeks, but was glad to see them return to the classroom.

ABS program manager for household surveys Michelle Marquardt said many children had difficulty adjusting to learning from home.

Fifty-eight per cent of parents reported their children had trouble concentrating, 49 per cent felt lonely and 33 per cent had feelings of anxiety.

"One in seven parents (15 per cent) said a lack of access to a stable internet connection was impeding their children's ability to undertake their schooling from home," Ms Marquardt said.

Ms Trustum said her two boys, in year 2 and year 4, had adapted quickly to the change, in part because they didn't entirely understand the severity of the situation.

"They were quite happy to be at home. They missed their friends but we set up some Zoom calls," she said.

The survey also found one in eight adults gave unpaid assistance to a vulnerable person not living with them

Shopping for vulnerable family members was common, the survey found. Eighty per cent of recipients were family members in need of shopping.

Almost a quarter of adults gave unpaid care to a person in their household due to COVID-19.

Four per cent of people reported a guest in their house due to the pandemic and half of those visitors were unable to return home because of travel or border restrictions.

One-quarter of those temporarily living elsewhere were doing so to assist with care.

This story Three in four families kept kids at home due to COVID-19 first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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