70% Of Parents Want More Than An In-School Option For Their Kids

by Valerie Williams
Malte Mueller/Getty

A new survey proves that the vast majority of parents want more than just an in-school option for their kids as the COVID-19 pandemic stretches on

The National Parents Union has released the results of a new survey focusing on where parents stand on pandemic-era schooling issues including vaccines, masking in schools, learning loss, and mental health needs when it comes to their children. One somewhat surprising statistic to come out of the research? Seventy percent of surveyed parents want more than just an in-school option when it comes to their kids’ education amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

We say surprising because judging by the bonkers school board meetings we see, there are some loud parent voices in the fight against common sense pandemic precautions in schools including masks, temp checks, and vaccines for teachers. Those viral moments make it seem like a lot of parents don’t want COVID-cautious options in schools — but that perception is wrong based on the NPU’s survey results showing a full 70 percent of parents want more choices when it comes to how their kids attend school in the era of COVID.

Parents want options including in-person education, remote/online, or hybrid learning — and they want the ability to decide for themselves what is best for their children and their families. According to the survey results, 77 percent of parents say that their child is attending school only in-person this year while nine percent say their child is attending only remotely/online. Another 14 percent have their child enrolled in a hybrid situation. That begs the question — what would those percentages look like if parents had a say in the matter and schools offered more options?

The news is timely as schools all over the United States grapple with the best ways to keep students and staff safe amid COVID. Many schools opened this year without mask mandates in place and it quickly became clear that a lot of illness and missed days of school could’ve been avoided by mandating face-coverings. School districts in states like Florida, Texas, and South Carolina were forced to deal with state bans on mask mandates, instead insisting the choice be left up to parents.

So why shouldn’t parents have a choice when it comes to how their kids attend school amid an ongoing global pandemic?

EdWeek reported at the beginning of summer that some districts and even entire states were actually banning the remote learning option. “Everyone wants to get back to normal. But snapping back to normal when we know that didn’t work well for too many kids, that’s a real danger,” Robin Lake, the CEO of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, tells the publication. “Are districts really going to force families to bring their kids back? That’s a bad look.”

Dan Domenech, the executive director of AASA, the School Superintendents Association, says that thankfully, most districts are amenable to providing a remote option for kids where that would be a better fit than in-person learning. Domenech emphasizes that remote learning can help kids work at their own pace. “The politics of this thing have gotten to the point where remote learning is undesirable, and so [some districts feel] all kids need to be back in school in person,” he says.

The other concern is that schools banning a remote option won’t be very well prepared to make a transition should COVID levels severely rise in the future to the point where remote learning is the only safe option, as was the case at the start of the pandemic.

In states where pandemic precautions are scarce (or even banned) it’s important that parents have choices in keeping their children safe and adequately educated. These recent survey results prove that most parents want a say in how their kids learn — and school districts should be listening.