Background: School closure is one of the main policies of global health care strategies performed worldwide. Despite all benefits, there might be some threats for younger groups spending their time in quarantine. This study aims to determine the impacts of lockdown and school closure on children's major lifestyle aspects, especially their leisure and sleep pattern during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Methods: For the purpose of this study, an online questionnaire was distributed from 14th to 31st of March 2020 among the schools and students from the first grade to the 12th grade (before university) in Fars province, southern Iran. The questionnaire consisted of five sections which included data regarding the students' general information, activity priorities, adherence to quarantine, attitude toward school closure, and sleep patterns.
Results: In our study, 20,697 filled questionnaires were received from the participants with an average age of 13.76 years; 29.7% of them were male, 80.6% were from urban areas, and 83.3% were from public schools. The overall first preference of students during school closure was mobile and computer games (30.1%), followed by studying (26.6%) and watching television (13.8%). Our results demonstrated that the majority of students adhered to social distancing and there was also a significant correlation among education levels and desire for schools to be closed till the end of the semester (P = 0.015). Also, regarding sleep patterns, the majority (53.5%) had above 12 h of sleep throughout the day.
Conclusion: It seems that lockdown following COVID-19 pandemic has changed various aspects of the students' lifestyle remarkably, especially by increasing screen time and even sleep duration and pattern. We believe that certain strategies should be implemented by the Health and Educational Ministry to control not only the visible side effects of the quarantine period, but also the collateral consequences on their psychological and mental health.
Keywords: Activities; Attitude; COVID-19; Education; Pandemic; School; Sleep.