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Wednesday 13 May 2020 12:26pm

University of Otago, Christchurch researchers and paediatricians are launching an urgent study to understand what information parents need to understand and feel reassured about COVID-19 and its potential impact on children.

The study comes as parents prepare to send their children back to school at Alert Level 2.

Tony Walls image
Associate Professor Tony Walls

Associate Professor Tony Walls is a University of Otago, Christchurch researcher and paediatric infectious diseases expert. He says sending children back to school at Alert Level 2 is as “safe as it's ever been” because of a lack of other viruses currently circulating, such as influenza, and the research from overseas showing COVID-19's lesser effect on young people.
See his previous comments on COVID-19 and children

Associate Professor Walls says the science and information on COVID-19 is changing rapidly and it may be difficult for people to understand what it all means. It is important to understand parents' perspective and needs so information provided by Government or health agencies is appropriate and meets their needs, he says.

He and his colleagues have launched the study urgently and researchers hope to get several thousand parents from around New Zealand to take part. They will analyse answers and produce results to feedback back to Government within two weeks.

“The aim of this study is to examine what parents and caregivers know, and want to know, about the potential risks associated with children returning to school in the COVID-19 era. This is important information as it will help us to provide recommendations regarding the advice given to parents, as well as helping to inform similar situations in the future,'' Associate Professor Walls says.

“We are aware that many parents are concerned about sending their children back to school. From our perspective we think it is as safe as it has ever been, but it is important to listen to parents and understand their views. Now is the perfect time to understand if the messaging from schools and government agencies is getting through clearly to parents.”

Parents of early childhood, primary, intermediate and high school are invited the complete the short survey.

COVID-19 in Children Parents' Survey

For further information, contact:

Kim Thomas
Senior Communications Adviser
University of Otago, Christchurch

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