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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Most American teens think online school is worse than going in person, but less than a fifth of them think that it makes sense to be in person full-time while COVID is still circulating, according to results of a new survey shared first with Axios.

The big picture: Parents badly want their kids back in school, and students want to be there, too. But most feel it's still not safe, according to the survey, which was conducted by Common Sense Media and SurveyMonkey.

By the numbers:

  1. 59% of teens felt that online school is worse than traditional learning, with 19% describing it as "much worse."
  2. It's not just about missing their friends. Nearly half of students said they learn better in person, with just 30% citing missed social interaction as the key downside of e-learning.
  3. Students don't trust schools can be made safe. Roughly 70% of teens said they trust "only a little" or "not at all" that their school can or will take enough precautions to keep them safe during the pandemic. The distrust is even higher among Black and Hispanic teens, who also report being more concerned about getting sick from in-person schooling.
  4. Given all this, teens want to stay home. Only 19% said school should be fully in person right now, with 42% saying they would prefer fully remote learning and 37% in favor of a hybrid option.
  5. Students face hurdles in trying to learn online. A third of students cited a lack of access to teachers as an obstacle, while more than a quarter of students expressed concerns about unreliable internet access.

Yes, but: Teens are still worried about the impact of distance learning. More than 6 in 10 said they fear falling behind academically.

Our thought bubble: Distance learning might be the least bad alternative, but it's still pretty bad. Even with dedicated parents, teachers and students, it can still be a disappointing and frustrating experience all around.

Go deeper

Dec 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden taps Miguel Cardona to lead Education Department

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Miguel Cardona, education commissioner in Connecticut, has accepted President-elect Joe Biden's offer to serve as secretary of the Department of Education, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: Cardona will be responsible for leading a reopening of the country's schools, which Biden has pledged to do within his first 100 days as president if Congress helps with financial support.

Dec 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Miguel Cardona emerges as Biden's choice to open schools

Photo: DNCC via Getty Images

Joe Biden is leaning toward nominating Miguel Cardona, education commissioner in Connecticut, to serve as secretary of the Department of Education and lead a reopening of the country's schools, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: Cardona, who has focused on reopening schools in his home state, emerged as the president-elect leaned away from another potential candidate, Leslie Fenwick, dean emeritus at Howard University, and two teacher's union candidates. A final decision has not been made.

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.