The COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions have affected the wellbeing of schoolchildren worldwide, but the extent and duration of specific problems are still not completely understood. We aimed to describe students’ psychosocial and behavioral parameters and associated factors during the COVID-19 pandemic in Berlin, Germany. Our longitudinal study included 384 students from 24 randomly selected Berlin primary and secondary schools, assessing psychosocial wellbeing at four time points between June 2020 and March 2021. We analyzed temporal changes in the proportions of anxiety, fear of infection, reduced health-related quality of life (HRQoL), physical activity and social contacts, as well as sociodemographic and economic factors associated with anxiety, fear of infection and HRQoL. During the observation period, the presence of anxiety symptoms increased from 26.2% (96/367) to 34.6% (62/179), and fear of infection from 28.6% (108/377) to 40.6% (73/180). The proportion of children with limited social contacts (<1/week) increased from 16.4% (61/373) to 23.5% (42/179). Low physical activity (<3 times sports/week) was consistent over time. Low HRQoL was observed among 44% (77/174) of children. Factors associated with anxiety were female sex, increasing age, secondary school attendance, lower household income, and the presence of adults with anxiety symptoms in the student´s household. Fear of infection and low HRQoL were associated with anxiety. A substantial proportion of schoolchildren experienced unfavorable psychosocial conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020/2021. Students from households with limited social and financial resilience require special attention.
Keywords: Berlin; GAD-7; HRQoL; SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus; school; students.