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Parents Slightly Favor Full-Time, In-Person School This Fall
Education

Parents Slightly Favor Full-Time, In-Person School This Fall

Parents Slightly Favor Full-Time, In-Person School This Fall

Story Highlights

  • 56% of U.S. K-12 parents want full-time, in-person attendance this fall
  • Coronavirus concerns strongly related to instruction preference
  • More parents say remote learning was difficult rather than easy

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As the 2019-2020 school year that was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic ends, U.S. parents are more likely to prefer their children attend full-time, in-person school this fall as opposed to having full- or part-time distance learning. Fifty-six percent of parents with children who attend a K-12 school prefer their children's instruction be fully in person this fall. Meanwhile, 37% prefer a hybrid program in which students attend school part time and do some distance learning, while 7% want full-time distance learning for their children.

Slim Majority of U.S. Parents Favor Full-Time, In-Person Schooling This Fall
In the fall, would you want your children's school to have full-time distance/remote learning, have a modified program where they attend school part time and do some distance/remote learning, or have your children attend school full time?
All K-12 parents
%
Full-time, in-person school 56
Part-time school with some distance learning 37
Full-time distance learning 7
Based on parents of U.S. K-12 schoolchildren
Gallup Panel, May 25-June 8, 2020

These results are from Gallup's coronavirus tracking survey and are based on web interviews with more than 1,200 parents of K-12 schoolchildren.

Concern about the coronavirus is a major predictor of what type of schooling parents prefer. Overall, 46% of parents say they are very or somewhat worried about their children getting the coronavirus. Among those parents, 71% prefer their children have part-time (59%) or full-time (12%) distance learning, with only 29% favoring full-time, in-person schooling.

In contrast, 79% of parents who are not worried about their children getting the coronavirus want them to attend full-time, in-person school this fall.

Preference for Fall Schooling Related to Concern About the Coronavirus
Worried children will get coronavirus Not worried children will get coronavirus
% %
Full-time, in-person school 29 79
Part-time school with some distance learning 59 18
Full-time distance learning 12 2
Based on parents of U.S. K-12 schoolchildren
Gallup Panel, May 25-June 8, 2020

Given that coronavirus concern is strongly correlated with political party affiliation, there is a large partisan gap in parents' preferences for fall schooling. Eighty-two percent of Republican parents want their children to attend school full time in the fall, compared with 63% of independents but only 33% of Democrats. The majority of Democratic parents, 57%, want partial in-person schooling and partial distance learning.

Working parents (59%) are more inclined than nonworking parents (46%) to favor full-time, in-person schooling for their children.

Majority of Parents Had Difficult Time With Remote Learning

Parents may be more relieved to have the 2019-2020 school year end than any prior school year. Parents whose children's schools were closed to in-person attendance were more likely to describe the remote learning experience as "difficult" rather than "easy" for themselves and their spouse or partner.

Fifty-six percent of parents said remote learning was difficult for their household, including 16% who described it as "very difficult." In contrast, 44% said remote learning was easy, including 8% who said it was "very easy" for their family.

Six in 10 working parents said remote learning was difficult for them, compared with 44% of nonworking parents.

Also, likely reflecting the ages of their children, younger parents (those under age 45) were significantly more likely than older parents to say remote learning was difficult -- 60% to 49%, respectively.

Unmarried parents are also more likely than married parents to describe remote learning as difficult, and women are more likely than men to say the same.

Parents' Experience With Remote Learning
How easy or difficult has your child's remote learning been for you (and/or your spouse/partner)?
Easy/Very easy Difficult/Very difficult
% %
All K-12 parents 44 56
Aged 18-44 39 60
Aged 45+ 51 49
Working 40 60
Not working 55 44
Married 47 54
Not married 35 65
Women 40 59
Men 49 51
Based on parents of U.S. K-12 schoolchildren
Gallup Panel, May 25-June 8, 2020

There are no meaningful differences in parents' experience with remote learning by their educational attainment, household income level or race.

Parents' experience with distance learning this spring and their preferences for fall instruction for their children are modestly related. Sixty percent who described the remote learning experience as difficult would prefer their children be in school full time this fall, compared with 51% of those who said remote learning was easy for them.

Bottom Line

At a time when social distancing practices designed to limit the spread of the coronavirus are easing but still very prevalent in the U.S., a slim majority of parents would like to see their children attend full-time, in-person school this fall. But a substantial minority of parents are hesitant to have their children resume their normal schooling.

Parents' concern about the coronavirus is largely influencing their preferences, mainly whether they favor full-time, in-person attendance or a partial remote learning/partial in-person attendance model. This may indicate that parents are attempting to balance their children's safety with their possible concerns about their children's academic progress. Earlier in the pandemic, about half of parents expressed concern about their children's education.

Parents may also be attempting to support their children's mental health, as about three in 10 say their children's emotional or mental health is already suffering due to social distancing and the closure of schools and businesses.

With the beginning of the next school year fast approaching, K-12 school leaders are developing plans for the 2020-2021 academic year. Those plans almost certainly will involve enhanced safety measures to keep students, teachers and staff safe, regardless of whether children attend school in person either full time or part time.

Learn more about how the Gallup Panel works.


Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/312674/parents-slightly-favor-full-time-person-school-fall.aspx
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