As CDC Says Reduces Spacing Requirements for In-Person Learning, 62% of Parents with Students in Blended Learning Say Their Children’s Mental Health Has Gotten Worse, Compared to Half or Less of Parents With Students in All In-Person or All Remote School
March 25, 2021 (Washington, DC) — With the CDC announcing new guidelines allowing schools to space students three feet apart, rather than six feet, allowing for more, but not full in person learning, a new survey from ParentsTogether, a family advocacy group representing more than 2.5 million parents across the country, found that 62% of parents with students in blended learning say their children’s mental health has gotten worse since the pandemic, compared to about half of parents with students in other models. Blended learning also performed worse than fully in-person or fully remote school across multiple other measures.
Specifically, ParentsTogether found that:
- 62% of blended parents said their kids’ mental health had gotten worse since the pandemic began, vs. 46% of remote parents and 50% of in-person parents.
- 38% of blended parents said remote learning was going “poorly” or “extremely poorly” vs. 26% of all-remote parents.
- 29% of blended parents said they thought their child was learning “hardly any” of what they’d learn in regular school vs. 19% of all-remote parents.
The survey also found that:
- Parents across the country are still concerned about the safety of total in-person learning. 78% are “worried” and 38% are “very worried” about the COVID health risks of their child attending school in person.
- Still, two-thirds say they are likely to send their kids back in person by fall and only 13% expect to keep their kids home. Of parents whose schools are all-remote now, 70% say it’s important they be open in the fall.
- Parents overwhelmingly oppose going ahead with standardized testing this Spring.
- Parents continue to have largely favorable views of teachers and their unions, and believe other factors are responsible for the duration of remote learning.
Although the Biden administration has insisted that standardized testing must continue, by a margin of 2:1 parents oppose schools going ahead with standardized tests in the spring. And they overwhelmingly oppose those tests being used in ways that could penalize students (81%) or teachers (73%). Two thirds of parents also think if tests are given this year, they should be shortened and used primarily to measure the pandemic’s effect on student learning.
Although some politicians have focused on the role of teachers’ unions in school closures, ParentsTogether found that for the most part, parents think other factors are responsible for the fact that some schools remain virtual. When parents whose schools are closed to in-person learning were asked to list the main reasons they thought that was the case, 69% of respondents said the main reason in person learning is unsafe is because of Covid-19, and 39% say it’s because there’s not enough funding for Covid-19 safety precautions. Only 9% believe teachers’ unions are one of the main reasons their schools are online.
A year into the pandemic, a majority of parents feel favorable towards teachers (70%) and a plurality of parents (47%) say they feel favorable towards teachers’ unions, vs. 11% who feel unfavorably.
Finally, when asked to rank their priorities for the funds school districts will be receiving from the American Recovery Plan Act, parents prioritized free mental health counseling (77% very important), improved school ventilation (76%), relief funds for families who are struggling (74%), and additional teachers and staff to support learning (72%).
“A year into the pandemic, parents of school-aged kids are still struggling with how to keep their families safe, and that means different things for different families,” said Justin Ruben, co-Director of ParentsTogether. “But they largely agree that schools should be fully open in the fall — and that the focus right now should be on supporting kids’ mental health and learning, not on conducting standardized tests.” He added, “Negative findings about the failures of blended learning underscore the need to provide regular in-person learning for children and families whose health allows it while providing high quality remote instruction for the many families who aren’t ready or able to do in-person school.”
ParentsTogether is a national, parent-led organization with over 2.5 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.