Grant Abstract: COVID-19, Vaccinations and School / Community Resources: Children's Longitudinal Health and Education Outcomes Using Linked Administrative Data

Grant Number: 1U01NR020443-01
PI Name: Elbel
Project Title: COVID-19, Vaccinations and School / Community Resources: Children's Longitudinal Health and Education Outcomes Using Linked Administrative Data

Abstract: This research will examine how significant disruptions to children’s health, education and overall well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic created lasting influence on health, development and social trajectories through the lifecourse, and the risk for long-term health outcomes. Effects of the pandemic are unevenly distributed amongst children, particularly with respect to race/ethnicity and income, and are anticipated to both reflect and exacerbate the already wide health disparities in the United States. As vaccines continue to roll out, inequality in access to and take up of vaccinations could compound the disparate outcomes. New York City (NYC), where the 1 million public school children are majority Black or Hispanic (66%) and 74% are low-income, is an ideal place to situate this research. In the health domain, changes in diet and physical activity and missed healthcare may increase incidence and exacerbation of chronic diseases like obesity, asthma and diabetes. The pandemic generated stress and anxiety, with fewer of the usual mental health services supports available, posing risk for new and more severe health problems. Even after schools fully return to in-person learning, the educational consequences are expected to be protracted – including declines in academic achievement (test scores), increases in chronic absenteeism, repeating grades, or high school dropout. The research leverages the NYC Student Population Health Registry (SPHR), a uniquely inclusive, longitudinal database of all NYC public school students, created jointly by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and NYC Department of Education to examine these and other outcomes. SPHR links multiple municipal data sources at the child-level, allowing us to examine the influence of the COVID pandemic on myriad outcomes. The impact of variation in child-level, classroom-level and school-level vaccination rates will be important to understand, and it is expected that neighborhood and school characteristics (income, vaccination sites, emergency food resources, open space) will mitigate (or exacerbate) sustained impacts. Identifying sources of resilience, at either the individual or neighborhood level, is a public health priority. The specific aims are: • Aim 1: With a focus on disparities, determine health and education changes among children 2-4 years after pandemic onset compared to pre-pandemic using a new, comprehensive and powerful set of linked child-level administrative data. • Aim 2: Determine how child-level, school-level and neighborhood-level COVID vaccination rates influence the course of the COVID pandemic, with a focus on disparities. • Aim 3: Determine the role of neighborhood and school resources in exacerbating or mitigating health and educational disparities due to the COVID pandemic. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: Our project will examine how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted children’s health and education in NYC over time, using a set of linked administrative data from multiple domains and including all children enrolled in the public school system. We will determine how racial/ethnic and income disparities were affected, in particular how vaccine availability and uptake, as well as school and neighborhood resources altered outcomes and disparities.

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