School-Based Health Services in Virginia and the COVID-19 Pandemic

J Sch Health. 2022 May;92(5):436-444. doi: 10.1111/josh.13147. Epub 2022 Feb 22.


Background: Schools have a long history of delivering health services, but it is unclear how the COVID-19 pandemic may have disrupted this. This study examined changes in school-based health services and student needs before and during the pandemic and the factors important for delivering school-based health services.

Methods: A web-based survey regarding the impact of the pandemic on school-based health services was distributed via email to all 1178 Virginia public elementary schools during May 2021.

Results: Responding schools (N = 767, response rate = 65%) reported providing fewer school-based health services during the 2020-2021 school year than before the pandemic, with the largest declines reported for dental screenings (51% vs 15%) and dental services (40% vs 12%). Reports show that mental health was a top concern for students increased from 15% before the pandemic to 27% (P < .001). Support from families and school staff were identified by most respondents (86% and 83%, respectively) as very important for the delivery of school-based health services.

Conclusions: Schools reported delivering fewer health services to students during the 2020-2021 school year and heightened concern about students' mental health. Understanding what schools need to deliver health services can assist state and local education and health officials and promote child health.

Keywords: COVID-19; elementary schools; school nurse; school-based health; social determinants of health; surveys.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Pandemics*
  • School Health Services
  • Schools
  • Virginia / epidemiology