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Covid-19 pandemic and educational services for children ages 0-3 in Portugal: health measures, pedagogical practices and well-being

Sara Barros Araújo, Sílvia Barros, Ana Silva, Centre for Research and Innovation in Education, Polytechnic Institute of Porto; Rafaela Rosário, School of Nursing, University of Minho; Health Sciences Research Unit: Nursing (UICISA: E), Nursing School of Coimbra;
Concurso para apoiar projetos de investigação sobre o impacto social da Covid-19 (LL20-3)

This research addresses the implementation of Covid-19 prevention and control measures (PCMs), pedagogical practices, children’s and professionals’ well-being and digital health literacy in early education services for children ages 0-3 in Portugal. Eight hundred fifty-three early childhood education (ECE) teachers from all districts completed an online survey during January and February 2021. Results suggest that PCMs are widely implemented. ECE teachers reporting to implement PCMs more frequently were more likely to report that they had reinforced their pedagogical practices and tended to report higher levels of child and adult well-being. Teachers reporting adequate digital health literacy were more likely to report that they implemented PCMs frequently.
Key points
  • 1
       Covid-19 PCMs were widely implemented in early education centres for children ages 0-3. The vast majority of ECE teachers reported that they used personal protective equipment at all times (96%), that children attending their rooms used toys/materials exclusively provided by the centres (83%), and that their centre restricted parents’ ability to go inside the centres (81%).
  • 2
       ECE teachers who reported implementing PCMs more frequently were more likely to report that they had reinforced their pedagogical practices regarding adult-child interaction, emotional climate and interaction with families, during the pandemic.
  • 3
       Teachers reported positive indicators of well-being in children in their rooms. Those who reported having reinforced their pedagogical practices (adult-child interaction and emotional climate) tended to perceive higher levels of children’s well-being. However, 29% of participants agreed that the pandemic might have contributed to a decrease in children’s well-being in childcare.
  • 4
       Teachers who reported more frequent implementation of PCMs were more likely to report positive levels of subjective well-being. However, almost 14% of ECE teachers reported low well-being.
  • 5
       Teachers who reported adequate digital health literacy reported more frequent implementation of PCMs.

Personal protective equipment was the most reported PCM (reported to be implemented always by 96% of teachers). The implementation of other core PCMs issued by the Ministry of Health was also highly reported, such as social distancing, the disinfection of surfaces and ventilation. The reduction of class size was the least reported PCM (never implemented in over 57% of cases).

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