Aug 12, 2020 - Health

Poll: America's confidence in public school system jumps amid pandemic

Illustration of a school desk surrounded by caution tape

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

America's confidence in the public school system rose by 12 points this year to 41% — its highest point since 2004, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.

Why it matters: "Double-digit increases in confidence for any institution are exceedingly rare," Gallup notes. The jump comes as teachers, administrators and parents are still figuring out how to safely get kids back to school in the midst of a global pandemic, as the U.S. reports the most coronavirus infections and fatalities in the world.

Where it stands: Within one week of K-12 schools reopening in Georgia, 1,135 students have been told to quarantine in one school district after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

  • In Florida, a domestic epicenter of the virus, nearly 300 high school graduates were advised to self-isolate in late July after someone at their graduation ceremony was diagnosed with the virus, CNN reports.
  • In Indiana, which set a new high last week for coronavirus infections recorded in a single day, 228 students in one school district were recently sent home to quarantine, AP reports.
  • In Delaware, which has low case spread compared to the rest of the U.S., over 200 K-12 students were advised to quarantine after a football player tested for the virus within the last few days, per AP.
  • In Alabama, over 1,200 students from an elementary and middle school will start classes online after officials learned Monday that an individual "connected with both schools" had tested positive for the virus, AP reports.

Between the lines: Swiftly implemented quarantines show that schools are willing to take action to slow the spread, but it doesn't change the danger that kids face when returning to the classroom — especially in high-risk states.

The big picture: Gallup polling also found significant upticks in American confidence this year in banks, small businesses, organized, and the medical system. Confidence in the police fell five points to 48% — the first time in 27 years that Gallup has tracked this trend that approval fell below the majority threshold.

Methodology: Gallup conducted cellphone and landline interviews June 8-July 24 with a random sample of 1,226 adults in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Margin of error is ± 4 percentage points.

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