Families & the Community

Parents May Not Be as Upset With Schools About COVID Protocols as You Think, Polls Show

By Ileana Najarro — November 10, 2021 2 min read
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New poll results find that most Americans are feeling good about how their local schools have handled COVID-19 health and safety concerns.

A national poll of 1,033 Americans age 18 or older was conducted by market research company Ipsos Nov. 5-8 for the news organization Axios. Of the respondents, 182 were parents with children under the age of 18, said Chris Jackson, Ipsos senior vice president.

Respondents were asked to think back across the entire COVID-19 pandemic (since March 2020 to now) and rate whether local schools have done a good or poor job balancing health and safety with other priorities. Seventy-five percent of parents and 71 percent of respondents overall said local schools were doing a very good or somewhat good job.

At a time when education and schools are big election topics, as seen recently in Virginia and New Jersey, the poll was meant as a temperature check on how Americans think schools are being run, Jackson said.

“If you just watched coverage of those elections, you sort of got the picture that there’s this popular revolt of parents just totally fed up with what’s going on,” he said. “The data suggests that’s not true at all—that in fact, most parents are actually pretty positive about how schools have handled the pandemic.”

For Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade county public schools in Florida, the findings match local feelings of support his community has shared as his district has navigated the pandemic.

“I think it speaks clearly for the appreciation and the recognition of how difficult the task was, and how quickly school systems stepped up to the challenge going above and beyond just teaching students—which is never easy—but actually being a calming presence in the community in terms of dispensing meals, activating their sites for the purpose of testing for COVID-19, and then activating their sites for vaccinations,” Carvalho said.

In a similar vein, the latest poll from the National Parents Union, an advocacy organization, found that 75 percent of parents thought their child’s school was doing an excellent or good job handling health and safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

That nationally representative poll of 1,006 parents of public school students was conducted Sept. 9-13 by research group Echelon Insights. It also dug into concerns parents have, which included children’s academic progress and how the coronavirus situation is affecting children’s mental health and emotional well-being.

Keri Rodrigues, president of the National Parents Union, said parents have a lot of anxiety over issues related to school transportation, unfinished learning, and the supply-chain impact on students’ access to quality food at school, which are not addressed in the Ipsos poll.

Jackson with Ipsos said its poll question was intentionally left vague so as to avoid any language that could lead to partisan responses.

He recognized that parents may still have concerns, but said it’s important to highlight that it’s also not a scenario where parents are 100 percent against teachers and school administrators.

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