While California parents are strongly in favor of fully reopening campuses in the fall, they want school districts to offer online learning options, according to a statewide survey that indicates uncertainties about to the presence in person.
More than two-thirds of parents agree that eligible California students should be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 once it has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, with medical exceptions, according to survey released Thursday by USC and the California Education Policy Analysis.
“We are in a time of uncertainty,” said Julie Marsh, co-author of the study and professor of educational policy at USC. A variant of the coronavirus and unvaccinated children are contributing to an ever-changing set of circumstances, and people want to keep their options open, she added.
The survey found that more than 80% of parents and voters in California support an in-person return five days a week for K-12 students for the 2021-22 school year. And 71% of parents agreed that online learning should remain an option.
In late May, USC and PACE researchers surveyed 2,000 registered California voters, including an oversample of 500 parents with children under 18 at home. The survey covered a range of issues and measured voters’ concerns about the pandemic’s toll on the state’s 6 million students, opinions on teaching racism, and how best to support students who have falling behind academically.
Interviewees expressed concern about the impact of the pandemic on the learning of K-12 students.
Voters said they were more concerned about K-12 students falling behind academically. Respondents also expressed concern for students with special needs, those learning English, and those in need of emotional and mental support. Almost 90% said they promote extra help for students through summer schooling, intensive tutoring and extracurricular activities.
It remains to be seen whether all students return in large numbers to school campuses in the fall. Some California parents have reported that their children’s education has improved through online learning, and some students have thrived. California lawmakers are go ahead with a bill which will require school districts to offer independent online studies to students whose health may be at risk through in-person instruction. It was previously offered by districts on a voluntary basis before the pandemic, but lawmakers aim to make it a requirement for the next school year.
Several other factors could contribute to parents keeping their students at home, Marsh said, including concerns about bullying, racism and fears that a child could infect a household. In June, a survey found that 43% of parents of black students in Los Angeles raised concerns about bullying and racism by choosing to keep their children at home when schools reopened in the spring.
For black and Latino families, the concern of spreading the virus is very real: with multigenerational families crammed into housing and members who have been on the frontlines as “essential” workers, they are among the hardest-hit communities. affected.
Children under 12 have not yet been allowed to be vaccinated. The vaccine survey question asked respondents whether they agreed or strongly disagreed: “If a vaccine against COVID-19 is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)) United for school-aged children, it should be mandatory for all students in California schools. , with qualifying medical exemptions such as those for students allergic to vaccine components.
In May, the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest in the country, announced a plan to offer families the choice of traditional in-person schooling or a distance option that will be primarily online next school year.
“I wouldn’t blame families disproportionately affected by the virus for considering an online option in the fall,” Marsh said.
The survey showed that 78% of those polled believe the state has become more politically divided. And when it comes to education issues, the divide could have implications at the local level when school boards decide how best to spend the funding, Marsh said.
Democrats and Republicans have cited reducing gun violence in schools as their top educational priority.
But more than 80% of Democrats polled agreed that schools should spend more time teaching about racism and inequality, compared to 54% of Republicans. Overall, however, 72% of parents support the teaching of grade-appropriate courses on racism and inequality.
But there are places Democrats and Republicans agree: Voters from both political parties strongly support increased services for students when they return in the fall.
“There is a kind of hope here about what the public wants” despite different political ideologies, Marsh said.
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