A new series of surveys of almost 40,000 parents reports that nearly half of respondents say they are uncomfortable sending their children back to school for in-person learning this fall. When asked “Do you feel comfortable sending your child to school for in-person learning?” 43 percent of parents responded “No” while only 36 percent responded “Yes.”
While 21 percent of parents responded that they were “mostly” comfortable with their child returning to school, further analysis of this subgroup revealed that the majority still did not favor entirely in-person learning with 59 percent preferring a mix of remote and in-person learning, 5 percent preferring fully remote learning, and only 37 percent expressing a preference for entirely in-person learning.
The “Back to School Parent Pulse Survey” was conducted by Possip, an online engagement platform that enables parents and family members to share feedback with their child’s school through brief weekly surveys conducted by text. Between June 12 and July 20, 2020, Possip asked parents and family members ranging from East to West Coast to respond to short “pulse check” surveys that take less than a minute to complete. The respondent pool included parents and families representing 366 K-12 schools located across the country. Collectively, 28 languages are spoken by the parents and family members surveyed.
The objective of the pulse survey series was to help district and school leaders learn if families are comfortable with their children returning to school in-person in the fall, the circumstances around parent/family sentiments, and what learning format they preferred for their children.
Concern appears even higher among parents at Title I-eligible schools, which enroll higher populations of students from lower-income families. Fifty percent of Title I-eligible school parents reported that they are not comfortable sending their children for in-person learning, 19 percent said they were “mostly” comfortable, and just 32 percent said they were comfortable. About 22,000 of the parents in the survey pool—more than half of respondents—have children attending Title I-eligible Schools, which are schools in which at least 40 percent of enrolled students come from low-income families.
Asked which type of learning format they preferred this year, only 28 percent of parents surveyed in Title I schools favored in-person learning, while 38 percent wanted a hybrid approach including both remote and in-person learning, and 34 percent would opt for entirely remote learning.
“The responses highlight the competing needs of educators and families at this time,” said Possip founder and CEO Shani Dowell. “Families and educators, of course, want health and safety top of mind. At the same time, remote learning presents multiple obstacles for working families, and may also widen existing educational gaps. These challenges make it more important than ever for district and school leaders to have a pulse on the needs of families and team members, so they can make the best decisions possible.”
Possip is a Nashville-based, woman-owned company that provides districts and schools with real-time, front-line feedback from families and staff via a text messaging service that can send messages in 103 languages, making it a tool for school districts to achieve greater equity through greater family engagement. Schools using Possip’s services receive weekly reports that take less than five minutes for school or district leaders to review, in addition to periodic reports that highlight internal school trends as well as broader information, learning, and insights from across the national Possip users community. Possip Founder Shani Dowell, also a parent and former teacher, is the first black woman in Tennessee and one of fewer than 40 in the nation who has raised more than $1 million in venture capital.
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