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Nearly half of parents support sending their kids back to campus

August 17, 2020, 6:00 PM UTC

The consequences of keeping schools physically closed are enormous: Many parents can’t work because they can’t afford childcare, and many young children will forgo critical social development. But if schools do reopen in person, public health officials worry that could result in more virus outbreaks.

Fortune and Civis Analytics teamed up to survey more than 7,266 U.S. adults between July 17 and Aug. 10 to find out where Americans, and in particular parents, stand on schools and colleges reopening in person.

Parents are split on reopening schools. Just under half of K–12 parents (48%) think K–12 schools should reopen in person (only 32% of all U.S. adults agree). The support is strikingly lukewarm, considering the burden stay-at-home kids could place on parents.

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Those numbers might be suppressed by the fact that many schools haven’t informed parents of any procedures they’ll implement to decrease the spread of the virus. If they do reopen, 53% of K–12 parents support some form of blended learning. 

What parents want and what they’ll actually do might deviate. Case in point: Last Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that 74% of public school students opted for in-person classes, which includes blended online and classroom learning. If seven in 10 students in one of America’s densest—and hardest hit—cities are planning to do in-person classes, it may be safe to assume that many of our surveyed parents who opposed reopening in person (52%) will actually end up sending their kids in the coming weeks.

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By a 2-to-1 ratio, Americans who are more concerned with reopening too soon outnumber those more concerned with reopening too slowly. 

It’s clear people remain fearful of the virus. 

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More than half of K–12 parents want reopened schools to add health precautions (54%), require masks (53%), offer blended online learning (53%), and reduce class sizes (53%).

Only 6% of K–12 parents think schools should restart without any of these precautions or procedures.

*Methodology: The Fortune–Civis Analytics survey was conducted among a national sample of 7,266 adults in the U.S. between July 17 and Aug. 10. The findings have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography. 


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