69% of Parents Worry Children Face Setbacks in Learning Due to Pandemic School Closures

UTICA, NY - MAY 14: A child sits on a stoop in a working class section of Utica on May 14, 2012 in Utica, New York. Like many upstate New York communities, Utica is struggling to make the transition from a former manufacturing hub. The city's individual poverty rate is …
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A poll has found 69 percent of parents across the country are at least somewhat concerned their children will experience setbacks in school as a result of the pandemic school closures.

The poll, by the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, revealed while many parents are concerned about more coronavirus cases as children return to classrooms, they are even more worried their children have suffered learning loss while at home.

Of the 69 percent of parents who said they are at least somewhat concerned about their children’s setbacks, 42 percent said they are very, or extremely, worried about learning loss.

While 64 percent said they are at least somewhat concerned that in-classroom instruction will lead to more coronavirus cases, only 33 percent said they are very or extremely worried about the risk.

Most parents also expressed concern about their children’s loss of social and athletic interactions as a result of an absence of in-school activities and sports.

According to the poll, only about four in ten parents said teacher vaccines are essential for a return to in-person learning, while about a third said teacher vaccines are important, but not essential.

The poll also found 81 percent of parents said they support government-funded summer school or tutoring to help students who suffer learning setbacks. Only six percent are opposed to that idea, and 12 percent did not have an opinion.

As AP noted, the school closures also led to parents exploring other learning venues, such as private or religious schools.

As a result, more states are considering school choice mechanisms. The poll found 46 percent of parents said they support taxpayer-funded school vouchers for low-income students to attend nonpublic schools, while 31 percent said they were opposed.

Among black parents, 62 percent said they supported school choice.

The poll of 1,076 adults was conducted Feb. 25-March 1. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

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