One-Third of Parents Surveyed Say They Will Not Send Kids Back to School If They Reopen, One Quarter Say Schools are Very Unprepared to Provide Safe Learning Environments; Parents Overwhelmingly Oppose Tying School Funding to Reopening
ParentsTogether, a national parent-led organization with over 2 million members, has released the results of a survey of over 1200 parents around the country highlighting the impact the coronavirus crisis is having on families and kids as they grapple with the decision of whether to send children back to school this fall. Almost half of parents say schools are not ready to reopen in the fall. One third say if schools re-open they will not send their kids, and an additional 11 percent say they’re unlikely to.
The survey found the lack of child care is hitting families very hard. More than 40% of respondents reported they lost income due to child care, and 28% of those with kids in daycare/preschool said that it had already closed permanently.
Parents overwhelmingly oppose tying school funding to re-opening, a proposal favored by the President and Senate Republicans. And they were more than three times more likely to agree that “schools should remain closed until they are certain there is no health risk, even if it means students fall further behind” vs. agreeing that ”Schools should reopen as soon as possible so students don’t fall too far behind and can receive the educational support they need.”
The authorities parents trust most to determine when schools open are national and local public health officials (chosen by 36%) followed by state and local education officials (13%). Just 2.8% trust President Trump to decide.
The survey also found that, as CARES Act funding ends this month, 72% of people with children under the age of five say the government hasn’t done enough to help with childcare challenges (only 2.4% say they have).
“Our government has effectively abandoned kids and families. If Congress doesn’t provide more economic relief, along with aid to schools and childcare programs, a generation of kids will suffer lasting harm,” said Justin Ruben, Co-Director of ParentsTogether. “What we don’t need is politicians playing politics with our kids’ lives by trying to force schools to reopen before it’s safe.”
Some of the toplines from the survey include:
- Parents’ top concern when it comes to reopening is the spread of COVID-19.
- 64% have been told by their schools what the current plan is for fall. Only 28% expect their school to offer in person learning 5 days/week.
- If schools re-open, 34% say they won’t send their kids, overwhelmingly due to health concerns. An additional 11% say they’re somewhat unlikely, while 16% are somewhat likely, and 17% are very likely to send kids to school.
- Almost half think their kids’ schools are not prepared to provide a safe environment (26% very unprepared, 20% somewhat unprepared).
- When asked which statement most closely aligned with their views, 59% agreed that “Schools should remain closed until they are certain there is no health risk, even if it means students fall farther behind” while only 19% agreed that ”Schools should reopen as soon as possible so students don’t fall too far behind and can receive the educational support they need.”
- Lack of childcare is a huge drag on the economy. Out of 63% of respondents that lost income, 42% said it was because they lost childcare.
- Most of those people have lost 3+ months worth of income due to lack of childcare.
- 28% of those with kids in daycare/preschool said that it had already closed permanently.
- 27% of respondents with kids in childcare have had to pay some or all of their fees while they were closed to hold their spots.
- 90+% of kids are spending summer at home with a parent or a grandparents.
- Just 17% support tying school funding to re-opening, while 57% oppose this proposal.
- 36% think public health officials should be the ones deciding whether and how to open (vs. 2.8% for Donald Trump and 0.3% for Congress).
- 72% of people with kids under the age of five say the government hasn’t done enough to help parents with childcare challenges. 2.3% say they have.
Below, please find a sampling of testimonials from respondents:
- “It has been very hard to remain open during this pandemic. We received funding which helped us through the summer but now that funding is gone we are preparing to close due to low enrollment.” – Maura, Parent and child care provider, Iowa
- “I don’t feel comfortable sending kids back to school, but it will be difficult to work and be their teacher.” – Matt, Missouri
- “We don’t have a computer or internet and no access to one. I’m not a teacher and my kiddos are being cheated out of an education” – Sharon, Colorado
- “…became homeless with children due to loss of childcare and income.” – Jessica, Oklahoma
- “I feel that the school’s are more worried about the Numbers and the Money and not the safety of their Staff or Students.” – Patricia, Colorado
- “I fear that not focusing on work will mean I will lose my job.” – Mari, Texas
- We need schools and daycares to reopen, but we first need to gain some control of the pandemic, then provide full funding and guidance for reopening so that our children and families are not taking unnecessary risks with their health, lives, and well-being. – Anna, Washington
- “My older kids had to watch their small siblings. I was worried about safety issues and their development” – Belle, Illinois
About ParentsTogether Action
ParentsTogether Action is a national, parent-led organization with over 2 million community members from coast to coast working together to build a world where every child and family can thrive. Our membership is socio-economically and racially diverse, and includes parents from every state.