Should the school be in person? Academic and emotional concerns outweigh COVID-19 in parents’ opinion
Amid a wave of COVID-19 cases due to omicron variant, a slim majority of parents of K-12 students (53%) say schools in the United States should offer a mix of in-person and online instruction this winter, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center. Some 37% say K-12 schools should only provide in-person instruction, while just 9% say schools should be fully online.
When asked what factors schools should consider when deciding whether to stay open for in-person instruction this winter, most parents of K-12 students said a lot should be given. attention to the possibility that students will fall behind academically (67%) or that their emotional well-being will be negatively affected (61%) if they do not attend school in person. Smaller shares cite parents who cannot work if their children are at home (52%), the risk of students or teachers contracting or spreading the coronavirus (43% and 39%, respectively) and the financial cost to school systems of following public health guidelines to keep schools open safely (26%).
This analysis explores parents’ views on the type of education K-12 schools in the United States should provide this winter and what factors parents consider important in deciding whether to keep schools open during the coronavirus pandemic. coronavirus continues. The analysis is based on a survey of 2,241 US parents of children in K-12 schools who live in their household. The data was collected as part of a larger survey of 10,237 adults from January 24-30, 2022. All of those who participated are members of the Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), a panel online survey recruited through random sampling of residential addresses. In this way, almost all American adults have a chance of being selected. The survey is weighted to be representative of the adult US population by gender, race, ethnicity, party affiliation, education and other categories. Learn more about the ATP methodology. Here are the questions used for this analysis, as well as the answers, and its methodology.
In July 2020, more K-12 parents said health risks for students (64%) and teachers (61%) should be considered more in decisions about reopening schools than they did not say the same about the possibility of students falling behind academically without individual instruction (54%). In February 2021 – when many schools that offered online instruction were deciding whether or not to reopen for in-person instruction – six in ten parents said academic considerations should be a major factor, while smaller proportions pointed to health risks for teachers (47%) or students (45%).
As has been the case throughout the pandemic, views on how schools should handle teaching vary widely across parties. Among parents of K-12 students, Republicans and those leaning Republican (55%) are much more likely than Democrats and Democrats (26%) to say schools should only provide a in-person instruction only this winter. A majority of Democratic parents (64%) — compared to 39% of Republican parents — say schools should offer a mix of in-person and online instruction.
Republican parents are more likely than Democratic parents to say that a lot of attention needs to be paid to the possibility of students falling behind academically or having their emotional well-being negatively affected without in-person instruction. Republicans are also more likely than Democrats to say parents unable to work while their kids are home should be a big factor in those decisions. In turn, a larger proportion of Democratic than Republican parents say the risk to teachers and students of contracting or spreading the coronavirus should be considered.
Opinions also vary across demographic groups. White parents (47%) are much more likely than nonwhite parents (25%) to say schools should only provide in-person instruction this winter, while nonwhite parents are about three times more likely than white parents say schools should be fully online (14% vs. 5%, respectively). (The non-white category includes parents who identify as Black, Asian, Hispanic, another race, or multiple races; these groups could not be analyzed separately due to sample size limitations.)
Some 46% of high-income parents and 43% of middle-income parents say schools should be in-person only, compared to 28% of low-income parents. Among low-income parents, 16% say schools should only offer online classes; only 7% of middle-income people and an even smaller share of high-income parents (2%) say the same.
These differences reflect, at least in part, factors that parents say should be considered in decisions to keep schools open this winter. Non-white parents are more likely than white parents to say health risks to students (56% vs. 33%, respectively) and teachers (50% vs. 31%) should be major factors. In contrast, white parents (66%) are more likely than non-white parents (54%) to cite concerns that students’ emotional well-being will be negatively affected if they do not attend school in person. . Similar proportions of white (69%) and non-white (65%) parents say academic concerns should be considered.
Low-income parents are more likely than middle- or high-income parents to say that students’ risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 should be factored into these decisions; those with high incomes are most likely to cite concerns about academics and the emotional well-being of students if they are not attending school in person.
Most parents of K-12 students say their kids only get in-person instruction
While a majority of parents think K-12 schools should offer a mix of in-person and online instruction this winter, only 16% say that’s the type of education their kids are getting currently. About seven in ten (71%) say their children only receive in-person lessons, while only 5% say their children only receive online lessons. In October 2020, a plurality of K-12 parents (46%) said their children only received online lessons, while 20% said they only received in-person lessons and 23 % said there was a mix.
High-income parents are the most likely to say their children only receive in-person instruction: 84% say this in the new survey, compared to 77% of those with middle incomes and an even lower proportion of those with low incomes ( 58%). %). About one in ten low-income parents (9%) say their children only receive online lessons, while 23% say their children receive both in-person and online lessons. Only 3% of middle-income K-12 parents and 2% of high-income parents say their children only receive online lessons, while about one in ten in each group say they receive a mix.
Note: The following are the questions used for this analysis, together with the answers, and its methodology.