Summary List Placement
Some schools in the US have already opened their doors to students, but several districts have already run into the problems that can arise with in-person schooling.
Students are testing positive for the coronavirus, forcing students, teachers, and staff who just returned to school to be sent home to be quarantined. In Corinth, Mississippi, The Washington Post reported in the beginning of August that 116 students had to be sent home after six students and a staff member tested positive.
On the first day of school in Greenfield, Indiana, a school was notified a student tested positive, according to reporting from The New York Times. Buzzfeed News reported on a photo shared on Twitter showed a school in Paulding County, Georgia, where students were close together as they walked through the hallway and many were not wearing masks.
A local Illinois news station reported on photos that also showed crowded hallways at Morton Community High School on the first day of school. Nearly 1,200 people had to quarantine in Cherokee County, Georgia, after a second grader tested positive for coronavirus, as reported by The New York Times at the beginning of August.
As more students and staff return to school, the National Education Association is keeping track of the number of cases in schools after Kansas teacher Alisha Morris started building a database, according to reporting from NPR.
But the problem may even get worse. Business Insider’s Lauren Frias interviewed an emergency medicine physician who said because of the combination of the coming fall and winter flu season with COVID-19, schools may have to close again as soon as October, citing increased exposure during flu season. The physician also notes the two viruses also share similar symptoms, such as coughing, that could make it harder to identify what a patient has. Per US News & World Report, some schools had to close for a few days last year due to a large number of student absences during flu season.
Schools are trying to find safe ways to have students return in person, from school districts attempting hybrid models to a school district in Detroit trying out outdoor classrooms, according to reporting by NBC News.
A review of over 470 school districts conducted by the Centre on Reinventing Public Education found about 40% of districts plan for in-person learning and about 12% plan a hybrid model, while more than half of city school districts plan to teach only remotely at least for one grade level. The report found about 62% of districts will also offer a remote learning option.
Not every parent is ready to send their child back to school. A new survey of 1,164 parents conducted by SafetyCulture and YouGov found only 43% of parents are comfortable having their children return to school in person. 56% of parents also reported their children are returning to school. The same survey found safety and health measures would make these parents feel more comfortable. The survey finds 34% would have more confidence in sending their children back to school if there’s proof that the school is following CDC guidelines.
Similarly, a previous survey of 500 parents by Echelon Insights and the National Parents Union found that only 27% feel safe having their child return to in-person school this August or September. Of the parents surveyed, 17% would prefer their child to return later in the fall, while 15% prefer sometime in the spring.
In a new national survey published in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Pediatrics, about 30% of parent respondents plan to keep their child home if schools open in the fall. The percentage varies when looking at different demographics. For instance, 38% of respondents who earn less than $US50,000 per year said they would at least probably plan to keep their child home, while 21% of those who make between $US100,000 to $US150,000 per year said this. Those who also have job flexibility were more likely to say they would keep their child at home compared to those who don’t.
We decided to look at how parents are feeling as some schools near reopening. The following are nine charts based on surveys conducted from Homes.com, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Echelon Insights with the National Parents Union that asked parents about their feelings and attitudes regarding upcoming school plans and virtual learning.
White parents tended to prefer their children return to school in August or September, while non-white parents were more likely to want their children to return to school in the spring.
A majority of Republicans preferred their children return to school in August, September, or the late fall, while Democrats tended to want their children to return to school either in the winter or early next year.
Higher-income parents were more likely to prefer their children return to school in August or September, while lower- and middle-income parents had varying feelings about the right time for their children to return.
Parents are most concerned about staff and teachers getting coronavirus if their children return to in-person schooling.
The Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed parents from July 14 to July 19 who have children that attend school regularly and are between 5 to 17 years old. If schools do reopen, these parents are mostly worried about spreading the coronavirus: 79% said they are at least somewhat worried teachers and staff will get sick, while 70% said they are at least somewhat worried their child will get sick.
Teachers shares similar sentiments to parents. According to survey results from a NPR/Ipsos poll, “77% of teachers are worried about risking their own health” with 66% of teachers preferring to teach remotely.
Parents are afraid their children will fall behind in social and emotional development if their children don’t return to in-person schooling.
On the other hand, parents polled by KFF said if schools don’t reopen, they are most worried about children falling behind emotionally, socially, and academically.
A paediatrician recently shared with Business Insider that she believes schools should reopen because of an increased chance in developing mental health issues and less opportunity for physical activities.
A study from researchers in China of 2,300 children found an increase in depression and anxiety symptoms during quarantine, which in part may be due to fewer social interactions and spending more time indoors. Additionally, NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci said schools should try their best to reopen for the psychological and physical health of children.
In a poll by Echelon Insights, parents reported they are most worried their children will fall behind in maths, at 36%, followed by English, at 31%.
Although respondents are less concerned about not having technology or a sufficient amount of food at home if schools don’t open, school districts had to deal with both of these issues since March and will have to consider disparities in technology and food security during the upcoming school year. In a survey of US superintendents, 52% reported 80% or fewer of their students had internet in their households.
About 49% of non-white parents are concerned about not having access to technology for virtual learning compared to 17% of white parents. There are also differences by income level, where parents with household income less than $US90,000 were more concerned about not having the necessary technology than those with income at least $US90,000.
Parents would feel safest sending their children back to school if the school makes it a requirement to quarantine after exposure to coronavirus.
A survey of 500 parents of students who attend public school asked what would be “absolutely necessary” for parents to feel safe sending their children to in-person schooling.
Of the survey options, most parents said they would only feel safe if people are required to quarantine for two weeks if they are exposed to someone who has coronavirus, followed by schools providing face masks to everyone in the school and replacing them regularly.
Only 38% said they would feel safe sending their children back to school if there was a COVID-19 vaccine made publicly available or no new coronavirus cases were reported in the area.
Similarly, 71% of parents of children age 5 to 17 polled by the Kaiser Family Foundation said schools need more resources to reopen safely under public health recommendations. Although the CDC recommends wearing masks to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, not every school is requiring people to wear masks, according to The Washington Post.
One survey found 65% of parents had their work negatively impacted because of their children learning from home.
Homes.com surveyed nearly 700 parents about virtual learning amid the pandemic. 65% of parents reported they had job issues due to their children’s remote schooling. The above chart shows that the biggest job issue was working around virtual learning, where 42% reported making work adjustments.
Companies can help their employees be supported while parents balance working from home and virtual learning. Strategic advisory firm Brunswick found in a survey of 344 working parents that 55% want flexible working hours if schools don’t reopen.
About half of parents surveyed in a recent poll think at-home learning was at least mostly successful, while 21% found it was not.
As the school year quickly approaches with many planning to use hybrid models, Homes.com looked back at the success of virtual learning, according to parents. Of the nearly 700 parents surveyed, around 47% thought virtual learning was either mostly or completely successful. However, Homes.com notes in a blog post about their findings that only 9% thought virtual learning was completely successful among parents who had to help teach at home.
Some parents are looking to create private education pods to have their children continue learning at home and learn from teachers. However, because private tutors are expensive, this solution highlights an economic divide for those who don’t have the option to hire a private teacher to avoid in-person risks and to help with work from home issues.
Another year of homeschooling may affect parents’ mental health or their success in working from home.
In a national survey of 730 parents’ attitudes about the upcoming school year, parents were asked “if you had to continue homeschooling this fall, how challenging would it be for” a variety of circumstances and issues.
It seems another school year of virtual learning would be most challenging for parents’ ability to work at home or for their mental health. Including those who consider these circumstances moderately challenging, the percentage of respondents who sees work from home as a challenge increases from 39% to 63%, and those who see their own mental health as a challenge rises to 62%.