Survey: 43% of Parents are Growing More Concerned about Sending Their Kids to School as Omicron Surges

After a fairly uneventful, undisturbed fall semester across the country, the return to class from the holiday break has been a very rocky proposition for many US schools. Thousands of schools have delayed their scheduled returns to class or temporarily switched to remote learning as COVID-19 cases surge from the Omicron variant, and now, many parents are having second thoughts about sending their kids back into classrooms during these uncertain times.

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My eLearning World: Training Technology Without Borders

We conducted a national survey of US parents with kids currently enrolled in school and found growing concern about the safety of attending school in the face of rising COVID-19 cases, but also doubts about the academic efficacy of another return to remote learning.

 

Key Findings

43% of all parents said the emergence of Omicron has made them more concerned about sending their kids to school

concern school safety omicron

Coronavirus cases are surging and reports are swirling about children being hospitalized with COVID at record levels. The Omicron variant is known to be highly transmissible, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has reported a big rise in pediatric coronavirus cases. With all of this taken into account, it’s not surprising to discover that many parents are becoming increasingly worried about sending their kids into classrooms. More than 2/5 of parents are more concerned now about their kids attending school in person than they were previously.

We also found that:

  • 51% of parents w/ vaccinated children said their level of concern for their child’s safety has increased due to Omicron, while just 35% of parents of unvaccinated kids expressed growing concern.
  • Dads were almost 3x as likely as moms to say their level of concern about their child’s safety has actually decreased with the emergence of the Omicron variant

 

Nearly half of all parents believe schools should offer both remote and in-person options and let parents choose the best option for their kids

school options omicron

While officials are pushing to keep classrooms open, a large number of parents think schools should at the very least offer the option of remote learning — and not just for kids who have tested positive for COVID-19.

  • 44.5% of parents said schools should offer both remote and in-person options and let parents choose the option they’re most comfortable with for their kids.
  • 15% of those surveyed said schools should go 100% remote/virtual for the time being as Omicron runs its course.
  • 17% of parents said schools should only offer in-person education and require all kids to attend.
  • 19% of all parents surveyed believe only vaccinated children should be allowed to attend school in person while all other kids should be required to stay at home and learn remotely.
  • Dads are likelier than moms (23% vs 16%) to support a policy that would only allow  access to in-person school to vaccinated kids

 

About 1/3 of parents of vaccinated children think only kids who have been vaccinated should be allowed to attend school in person

school return vaccinated

Parents who have had their children vaccinated against the coronavirus were much likelier to support a policy that would only allow vaccinated kids to be in the classroom. That said, the majority of parents are still against schools mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for students.

 

About ⅓ of parents aren’t satisfied with how schools have responded to the pandemic

satisfaction school covid policies

While roughly half of all parents report being satisfied to some extent with how schools have been handling the pandemic, a significant percentage are still unhappy. About 1 in 3 parents have expressed dissatisfaction with the safety protocols and information distribution/communication from schools during these times.

 

71% of parents think their kids will learn less if schools decide to go fully remote in response to the increase in COVID cases

22% think their kids will learn about the same as they would in person, 7% think they’ll learn more remotely.

remote learning quality

Even though many parents are worried if it’s safe to send their children into classrooms as cases soar, they’re also greatly concerned their kids will fall behind if schools shut down and go to a distance learning model. Nearly 3/4 of all parents believe their kids would learn less in remote/online classes than they would in the classroom. 

In previous studies during the spring 2020 school closures, more than half of parents believed online learning caused their children to fall behind in school. So it’s not too surprising to see that most parents are worried about the academic ramifications of more potential school closures.

 

Quality of education and lack of socialization are most parents biggest concerns about their kids potentially having to attend school virtually

remote learning concerns

There are numerous pros and cons to online learning in general, but for parents of school-aged children, there are some serious concerns, including most notably the effectiveness of remote learning, the lack of socialization kids get during school closures, and their children’s overall mental health (a recent New York Times report found school closings and remote learning have resulted in mental health issues among some teenagers) and emotional well being when stuck learning from home.

In particular, the parents we surveyed had a lot to say about the quality of the education students receive in remote classes.

One parent said that when her child has had to attend virtual classes in the past, “He [was often] home alone and [had] ZERO accountability during the day.” She added, “I’ve watched several lessons during remote learning and it’s absolute garbage.”

Another parent echoed this sentiment, saying, “The teachers at my kid’s school in general don’t seem to [care] about remote lessons. Before when we did them, the teachers seemed to not even care.”

 

Other Interesting Findings

  • Dads are about twice as likely as moms to support a policy that would require schools to make up any days they go remote with in-person classes later
  • Dads are likelier than moms (23% vs 16%) to support a policy that would only allow  access to in-person school to vaccinated kids
  • Dads are a little less likely than moms (67% vs 73%) to think their kids will learn less remotely than in person

 

Methodology & Other Notes

We worked with the data analysis firm Mindnet Analytics to conduct an online survey of 858 moms and dads of children currently enrolled in US schools between the grades of kindergarten through 12th. The survey was conducted from December 23-31, 2021.

Only US participants who are currently parents of children in school were permitted to take the study. The fastest 1% of responses were excluded prior to analysis to remove participants who may have rushed through the survey. Participants were also required to answer an ‘attention check’ question and were excluded from analysis if they did not answer it correctly.

Confidence Level: 95%, 3.4% margin of error

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