Nearly 3 in 4 parents comfortable with in-person learning for the fall: poll

Nearly 3 in 4 parents comfortable with in-person learning for the fall: poll
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U.S. parents are broadly confident in the ability of schools to keep their children safe from COVID-19, a new poll suggests.

The Hart Research survey released Wednesday found that nearly 3 in 4 parents polled, 73 percent, would support their school districts returning for a fully in-person school year in the fall, while 17 percent were unsure and just 10 percent said that hybrid or remote classes were still necessary.

An even wider majority, 90 percent, said that they were confident that their school district "will take the steps necessary to keep students safe in the fall," an increase from 73 percent who said the same before the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.

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Despite the wide agreement that in-person learning will be safe for most students, 85 percent of parents agreed in the poll that those in high-risk categories should be allowed to complete remote learning courses until they are vaccinated. Eighty-two percent said the same for teachers and staffers in high-risk categories.

Other specific safety measures also found widespread support in the poll. Another 78 percent of respondents agreed that students and teachers should wear face masks full-time while indoors, and train staff and students on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). The poll found 83 percent said that PPE should be provided for students and staff at schools, and 77 percent said that voluntary vaccinations should be offered at school buildings.

The number of parents comfortable with fully in-person learning rises to 94 percent, according to the poll, if all of the above safety measures and others including improving indoor ventilation systems and mandating social distancing were guaranteed to be implemented. 

“I’ve been in constant contact with parents’ groups and caregivers this year. If COVID has taught us anything, it’s how essential in-school learning is, and how vital the supports and resources to return are. School is where kids work together and play together. And parents rely on schools, not only to educate their kids, but also so they can work and live their lives," American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten told The Hill in response to the poll results.

“The main task now is building trust and confidence among Black and Brown families who have borne the brunt of COVID — to show, not tell, that schools are safe given the new variant, as long as we have the layered mitigation in place. And we now have an opportunity now to reimagine education," she added.

Hart Research's poll included survey results from 1,107 public school parents across the country on behalf of the AFT, NAACP and other organizations. Results were gathered online between April 22 to May 3, and have a margin of error of 3.47 percentage points.