Background: School closures have been a recommended non-pharmaceutical intervention in pandemic response owing to the potential to reduce transmission of infection between children, school staff and those that they contact . However, given the many roles that schools play in society, closure for any extended period is likely to have additional impacts . Literature reviews of research exploring school closure to date have focused upon epidemiological effects; there is an unmet need for research that considers the multiplicity of potential impacts of school closures .
Methods: We used systematic searching, coding and synthesis techniques to develop a systems-based logic model . We included literature related to school closure planned in response to epidemics large and small, spanning the 1918-19 'flu pandemic through to the emerging literature on the 2019 novel coronavirus . We used over 170 research studies and a number of policy documents to inform our model .
Results: The model organises the concepts used by authors into seven higher level domains: children's health and wellbeing, children's education, impacts on teachers and other school staff, the school organisation, considerations for parents and families, public health considerations, and broader economic impacts . The model also collates ideas about potential moderating factors and ethical considerations . While dependent upon the nature of epidemics experienced to date, we aim for the model to provide a starting point for theorising about school closures in general, and as part of a wider system that is influenced by contextual and population factors .
Conclusions: The model highlights that the impacts of school closures are much broader than those related solely to health, and demonstrates that there is a need for further concerted work in this area . The publication of this logic model should help to frame future research in this area and aid decision-makers when considering future school closure policy and possible mitigation strategies.