rural, education, COVID-19, parenting stress, resilience


The COVID-19 pandemic has generated social and economic disruptions, resulting in cascading effects on the health and well-being of global citizens. However, little research has focused on how COVID-19 has affected rural regions, despite rurality being a critical factor for understanding community impact and response to the pandemic. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the experiences of rural Nebraskan parents with young children during the COVID-19 pandemic and school shutdown, and the strategies they used to support their families during that time. We conducted individual and group interviews with 22 white, non-Hispanic mothers living in rural towns, villages, and farms in the Great Plains region of the United States. Thematic analysis was used to generate the following themes related to pandemic challenges: Impacts on Children’s Education and Development, Impact on Parent’s Work, and Social-emotional Impacts. Additionally, we generated themes related to the ways that rural parents responded to those challenges: Successful Parenting Strategies, Children’s Strategies, Using Community Provided Resources, Finding Unexpected Benefits, and Hope. This study is meaningful because it documented the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and school shutdown on rural families with young children, and their responses to pandemic-related stressors. Our findings provide further insights into families’ experiences of how COVID-19 affected their lives. Limitations and future directions are also discussed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.