Clear majority say they will not use emergency shelter at school

May 5th 2020

UAntwerp’s Big Corona Study yields interesting results after first relaxation 

The weekly questionnaire by UAntwerp shows that on Monday 4 May, 28% of people went back to work outside their home. The scientists also questioned the use of emergency shelter at school: a large majority indicated that they would definitely not use it. 

Tuesday saw the eighth wave of the Big Corona Study, an initiative of UAntwerp, supported by UHasselt, KU Leuven and ULB. The questionnaire was fully completed by 80,000 people and partially by 7,000 people. ‘The number of participants is again dropping compared to last week’, Koen Pepermans (Faculty of Social Sciences, UAntwerp) explains. ‘Corona fatigue is asserting itself, and of course it is also true that a lot of people went back to work (from or outside their home) on Monday. In that case, it is not so apparent to make time for a questionnaire.’ 

But even with 80,000 participants, the Big Corona Survey remains the largest questionnaire in Belgium by far. ‘We use the weighted data to, for example, make better predictions based on simulation models, and also to better assess the impact of the evolving epidemic and measures on health, economic and psychosocial levels’, Prof. Philippe Beutels, health economist at UAntwerp, says. 

Who uses the emergency shelter? 

An important issue at the moment is schools reopening, and the accompanying emergency shelter for children who cannot yet attend school. School directors fear that a lot of parents will send their children to these facilities, which will cause problems in terms of capacity and supervision. 

‘A large majority of respondents in the Big Corona Study indicate that they will definitely not make use of that emergency shelter’, Prof. Thomas Neyens (UHasselt/KU Leuven) says. ‘The decision whether or not to send children to emergency shelters depends on many parameters.’ 

‘For example, we see that 31% of single parents or guardians who have financial difficulties while still working will use emergency shelter (at least sporadically). For a working parent/guardian with a partner, without financial difficulties, the figure is 15%. When the parent does not work, this is even lower (8%). There are also clear differences per sector: people working in the health care sector are more likely to use the emergency shelter.’ 

15% cannot work yet 

Tuesday's questionnaire was the first after the first relaxation of corona measures on Monday 4 May. For many people, the routine of the past few weeks has changed. Some interesting findings: 

  • 28% of respondents have gone back to work outside their home this week. Of this group, 8% said that the employer forced them to come back to work.  

  • 57% of participants are still working from home full-time. 15% could not yet return to work.  

  • Last week, 65% of participating Belgians owned a mask. That percentage has since risen to 85%.  

  • Last week, 72% of people with COVID-19 symptoms said they had left the house without wearing a mask. That dropped to 58% this week.  

  • In corona times, people use all news channels to inform themselves. They especially trust the classic news channels (e.g. TV, radio, and online and offline newspapers).  

  • For the first time, the Big Corona Study polled how Belgians deal with parties. Many parties were postponed. Birthdays are usually still celebrated, but online or only with household members. However, there are people who deviate from the measures to celebrate a birthday. 

Those interested in the wide range of interesting results from the Big Corona Study can visit https://corona-studie.shinyapps.io/corona-studie/. This website, a project by Jonas Crèvecoeur (KU Leuven), shows a lot of graphs on the different sub-aspects of the questionnaire. Interested parties can thus easily see the evolution of a particular aspect over the weeks.