Social connectedness at the playground before and after COVID-19 school closure

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Social connectedness at school is crucial to children's development, yet very little is known about the way it has been affected by school closures during COVID-19 pandemic. We compared pre-post lockdown levels of social connectedness at a school playground in forty-three primary school-aged children, using wearable sensors, observations, peer nominations and self-reports. Upon school reopening, findings from sensors and peer nominations indicated increases in children's interaction time, network diversity and network centrality. Group observations indicated a decrease in no-play social interactions and an increase in children's involvement in social play. Explorative analyses did not reveal relations between changes in peer connectedness and pre-lockdown levels of peer connectedness or social contact during the lockdown period. Findings pointed at the role of recess in contributing to children's social well-being and the importance of attending to their social needs upon reopening.