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.

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