Jul 29, 2020 - Economy & Business

Parents and teachers stressed over back-to-school plans

Data: Back-to-School National Educator Survey / Teachers Pay Teachers. Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Back-to-School National Educator Survey / Teachers Pay Teachers. Chart: Axios Visuals

Back-to-school plans have teachers and parents on edge — but for different reasons, according to two surveys out this morning.

Why it matters: Parents and teachers have proven to be powerful forces in influencing local back-to-school plans, but many feel conflicted about their local districts' fall plans and others feel unprepared to tackle all-virtual or hybrid learning.

Parents' top concern is their child getting COVID-19 (66%), followed by their child being a carrier of the virus and spreading it to someone else (51%), and children not social distancing (49%), according to a Care.com survey of 2,019 parents.

  • 74% of parents say they're not satisfied by or don't know what their local government's back-to-school plan is.
  • Only 17% of parents feel prepared for virtual learning or homeschooling.
  • 65% of parents expect to need more childcare than they currently have in the fall.

Meanwhile: When asked what would make them most comfortable, top responses were to continue virtual or homeschooling until a vaccine is available (21%) or until there are significantly fewer cases in their state (20%), and a staggered virtual and in-person school schedule (20%).

A majority of teachers (52%) are worried about implementing the instructional models they've been directed to prepare for the fall, whether it be in-person classes, remote instruction or hybrid models, according to a survey of 1,101 PreK-12 teachers by Teachers Pay Teachers.

  • 93% of educators are worried about providing equitable instruction to all students.
  • 82% predict a lack of internet access for students will be at least somewhat of a barrier, while 79% say the inability to communicate with students and families will be a barrier.
  • 71% are taking courses to learn more about remote instruction or are brushing up on tech tools for the fall.

Between the lines: In the Washington, D.C. area, local school district surveys have shown diverging preferences between parents and teachers — with more parents hoping children will physically go back to school due to child care and academic concerns, and more teachers preferring virtual classes to prevent the virus' spread.

  • These surveys indicate more overlap in their worries: Parents are also acutely worried about children's health risk and teachers are highly concerned about being able to deliver a quality educational experience virtually.

Separately, a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of available data showed that while COVID-19 illness is significantly less severe in children, some do get very sick in rare instances.

  • And while children do transmit the virus to others, more evidence is needed to determine the frequency and extent of the transmission, per the brief.

Go deeper: Reopening schools is a lose-lose dilemma for many families of color

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