8 in 10 teachers concerned about returning to K-12 classes in the fall: poll

8 in 10 teachers concerned about returning to K-12 classes in the fall: poll
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The overwhelming majority of teachers have concerns about returning to in-person classes in the fall as the coronavirus pandemic rages across the country, according to a new NPR-Ipsos poll.

Eighty-two percent of K-12 teachers surveyed said they are concerned about holding in-person classes in the new school year, and 66 percent would rather teach their classes remotely.

Another 77 percent are worried about risking their own health should they return to school this fall, and 78 percent said they are concerned specifically about having sufficient personal protective equipment available and obtaining enough cleaning materials for teaching in person. Another 84 percent of teachers said they think it will be difficult to enforce social distancing among students.

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The polls numbers are skewed along party, age and racial lines.

Of teachers who identify as Democrats, 82 percent say teaching should be done remotely this fall and 18 percent say classes should be held in person. But among Republican teachers, 49 percent say classes should be conducted remotely and 51 percent say they should be taught in person. 

A majority of teachers of all age groups say teaching should be done remotely, but that number stands at 74 percent among teachers age 18-34, 62 percent among teachers age 35-54 and 58 percent among teachers age 55 years and older.

And among white teachers surveyed, 63 percent say classes should be remote, but that figure rises to 76 percent among teachers of color.

The poll comes amid a fierce nationwide debate over whether to hold in-person instruction this fall as states across the country still see alarming levels of coronavirus cases.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments Ocasio-Cortez: Trump contributed less in taxes 'than waitresses and undocumented immigrants' Third judge orders Postal Service to halt delivery cuts MORE and Republicans in Washington have strongly urged schools to reopen their doors for the upcoming school year, saying classrooms can effectively follow health guidelines and that in-person schooling is crucial for students’ development. Democrats, meanwhile, have urged a more cautious approach and have said local districts should make their own decisions about reopening, particularly amid the high levels of COVID-19 cases seen in several states.

Regarding the ability to teach remotely, 80 percent of the teachers surveyed said they feel more prepared to teach online this fall, and 70 percent said their school district's online or distance-learning effort is headed in the right direction. 

The NPR-Ipsos poll surveyed 505 teachers from July 21 to 24 with a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.