60 Percent of Parents Would Do This Instead of Sending Kids Back to School
A recent poll of parents and teachers predicts a dark future for education in the U.S.
When COVID-19 first started spreading in this country, there was the sense that it was something we would wait out—that, someday soon, it would be over, and things would go back to normal. But evidence is mounting that the definition of "normal" has already changed forever, and that the pandemic has far-reaching implications in other realms besides health. More proof of that is on display in two polls recently conducted by USA Today and Ipsos, which predict a darker future for education in the United States. When they open their doors again, parents aren't sure they'll be ready to send their kids back to school.
Many states are working towards reopening schools in the fall, but there's a question as to whether students will be returning to the physical classroom. When asked whether they would send their kids to school at the beginning of the next school year, 60 percent of surveyed parents of K-12 students told USA Today that they were "likely to pursue at-home learning options" instead. Considering how facilitating distance learning has been challenging for many families—85 percent of teachers surveyed said that parents "struggled" with it—this statistic speaks to how fear and caution will influence parents' choices going forward.
Teachers, too, are concerned about the risk of returning to in-person schooling, which may result in understaffing. In a separate poll, 20 percent of K-12 teachers surveyed said that they were "unlikely" to go back to school in the fall, even if institutions were reopened. (The percentage jumps to 25 for teachers 55 and older.) It's possible that burnout from the last few months will play a role in this decision, too; 83 percent of teachers said that their jobs are harder now than before, and 66 percent said that they're doing more work than usual under these circumstances. Add to that the emotional drain of watching students and parents grapple with these changes—50 percent of teachers said that they were "very worried" about their students falling behind—and there could be a second education crisis coming.
Funding cuts also aren't helping. NPR reported on the emergency slashing of state funding for education across the country, which has school administrators scrambling. "I think we're about to see a school funding crisis unlike anything we have ever seen in modern history," Rebecca Sibilia, CEO of school finance advocacy organization EdBuild, told the outlet.
Experts predict that when schools do reopen, measures will be taken to encourage social distancing and decrease cross contamination. School dances and hands-on group projects, for example, may be things of the past. However, 90 percent of teachers told USA Today that they are concerned about enforcing distancing among students. As for other safety measures, 70 percent of parents would send their children to school in masks, and 80 percent of teachers would wear one themselves. An equal ratio of parents and teachers—about two-thirds—are in support of a bifurcated week, with two to three days spent in school and the rest distanced learning.
However institutions and state governments choose to move forward, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that education in America is at a turning point. And for pandemic advice for parents, check out The One Thing You Must Tell Your Kids to Do Amid Coronavirus.