Parents and Teachers Favor Slow Return to In-Person Learning

By Lauren Camera for

A NEW POLL SHOWS THAT parents and teachers are both equally cautious about returning to in-person learning, citing overwhelming concern for student and staff safety as their main reason for favoring a slow, phased in approach.

The 1.7-million member American Federation of Teachers commissioned Hart Research Associates to conduct a dual poll to get a better understanding of whether parents and teachers were in more agreement on how schools should reopen than the national narrative might suggest.

“In the real world, parents and teachers are on the same page,” Guy Molyneaux, a partner at Hart, said in a call with reporters Tuesday. “This is about safety and education, and right now safety comes first.”

“This idea that we see some kind of division or split between parents and educators,” he said, “this is not a reality.”

The online surveys conducted between Aug. 26 and Sept. 6 reached more than 1,000 parents of public school students and more than 800 public school teachers.

The new school year was already underway for about two-third of parents and teachers who participated. More than half of parents and teachers reported that their schools are reopening with at least some in-person instruction, while two in five are reopening remotely.

When asked whether reopening schools for in-person learning too quickly or reopening schools for in-person learning too slowly is a bigger concern, 59% of parents and 64% of teachers said reopening too quickly is far more concerning. And when asked which should be the biggest factor in deciding whether, how and when schools should reopen for in-person learning – a choice between protecting the health of students and staff or meeting the academic, social and emotional needs of students – the vast majority of both parents, 68%, and teachers, 77%, said protecting students and staff was more important.

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