Due to Risks of COVID-19, Significant Percentage of Parents Not Planning to Send Children to Brick and Mortar Schools
Due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, up to one in five students who were attending a brick and mortar schools in March of this year are unlikely to return this fall, according to the findings of a new national survey. This means approximately 10 million K-12 students will be displaced from classrooms and in need of online learning options.
The poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, surveyed 2,000 parents of children enrolled in brick and mortar schools in grades K-11 who are facing difficult decisions regarding the safety, continuity, and effectiveness of their children’s education this fall.
The survey confirms that many parents have the same apprehensions expressed by education leaders and public health experts. Parents believe it may be too risky for their children to go back to their traditional brick and mortar school this fall.
According to the survey:
- More than two-thirds of parents are concerned about whether their child can safely return to their brick and mortar school in the fall.
- Nearly 60% of respondents said they believe their child is at risk of contracting COVID-19, while 66% believe they or another adult member of their household may be at risk.
- 70% of respondents anticipate more school closures in the next school year.
The risks are real, and these concerns come even as schools take significant steps to mitigate the possibility of exposure to the virus when reopening, including reduced class sizes, mandatory face masks, additional cleaning and temperature checks.
Despite these efforts, a remarkable 21% of parents with children in brick and mortar schools said they would not be comfortable with their child returning to their school, including 9% who said they are “not at all comfortable.”
As a result, parents must weigh the health and safety of their families as they make decisions about their child’s education.
Parents view online classes as a viable alternative to returning to a brick and mortar school.
- Over 80% of respondents reported that they were satisfied with the transition their child made to online learning when their brick and mortar school closed in March.
- Over 40% of brick and mortar parents responded that they would consider continuing online learning for their student next year. This sentiment was strongest among African Americans (49%) and Hispanics (48%), and in urban (47%) and rural (49%) communities.
But, supply must meet demand. Despite the benefits online learning presents when social distance is so important to parents, many states have artificial barriers in place that limit enrollment in online schools.
Among brick and mortar parents, there was widespread support for a series of policy solutions that would create greater access to online classrooms this fall, including:
- 96% support requiring every school to have an emergency backup plan to switch to online learning if schools are forced to close again
- 72% believe that adequate government funding must be provided for school districts to work with online education providers to develop online learning plans for school districts should they be forced to close again in the future
- 71% support lifting state enrollment caps on online schools to meet excess demand
The writing is on the wall and time is short
In a matter of months are school systems are going to be facing their next crisis when millions of students won’t be returning to traditional classrooms. Parents are making schooling decisions now. Both federal and state policymakers must act on a bi-partisan basis to ensure that there are an adequate number of “online seats” to meet the unprecedented demand for remote learning options.