MONTREAL -- The majority of Quebec parents believe their kids shouldn’t go back to school before September, and 56 per cent say their children's mental health has deteriorated since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These are two of the findings of a CROP survey carried out on behalf of the Fondation Jasmin Roy Sophie Desmarais, which focused on how the pandemic has impacted the physical, behavioural, psychological and emotional conditions of Quebecers.

The Quebec government hasn’t made its back-to-school plans public just yet, but 57 per cent of parents surveyed don’t think kids should go back before September. The idea of sending kids back to class in the coming weeks causes anxiety among 67 per cent of the survey’s respondents. Just over quarter of parents believe kids should go back by May 4. 

According to the survey, Quebecers’ mental health has deteriorated since the pandemic began. As many as 83 per cent of respondents say they feel worried and insecure, 77 per cent say they feel sad and 71 per cent are having trouble sleeping.

Kids are also feeling sad and lonely – 56 per cent of parents said their mental health has deteriorated since the start of the pandemic, too. 

According to 42 per cent of parents, the deterioration of kids’ mental health is mostly due to loneliness, but 31 per cent reported bad moods, frustration, worry and insecurity as the main differences they’ve seen so far. 

One in two respondents said their child's behaviour has shifted for the worse since the start of the pandemic, and a quarter said they’ve adopted a negative outlook on everyday things and events. 

“If kids are feeling anxious and unwilling to learn, it's going to be very difficult to send them to school without having a strategy to manage their anxiety,” said Jasmin Roy, president of the foundation who conducted the survey, in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Roy proposed that a “kit be created that is aimed at parents, teachers, adolescents and children on emotional management in times of confinement and deconfinement.” 

The survey was conducted online between April 17 and April 20 and received responses from 1,408 Quebecers aged 18 and up.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2020.