Remote learning is not easy. It’s taxing for kids to stare at a screen for hours at a time, and it’s not always the easiest for kids to engage with their teacher on Zoom. Many families don’t have reliable access to the internet. But despite that, new data in the form of a poll of 1,000 American parents across the country would prefer that schools invest in bettering remote learning during the pandemic, rather than rushing their children back into physical school.
Of the parents who responded to the poll, 58% of their kids are learning completely remotely, with 24% going to school in-person and 18% of students participating in a hybrid model. According to the poll, Black and Hispanic parents were more likely to say that their children were doing remote learning. 75% of Black parents and 68% of Hispanic parents said that their children were doing remote learning. Less than half of white parents said that their children were learning entirely remotely. About 18% of all respondents said that their children were in a hybrid model of learning, while less than a quarter of students are in school full time.
The poll found that elementary school students were just as likely to be doing distance learning as their middle school and high school counterparts, which could be surprising given that there have been so many fierce debates about sending young children back-to-school. With COVID still on the horizon, what does the immediate future hold for schools? Well, at least in terms of the parents in this poll, 54% would prefer that school systems prioritize developing more robust remote learning plans, and 37% responded by saying that schools should prioritize getting kids back into the classroom for safer in-person instruction. White parents were split down the middle, while a strong majority of parents of color wanted their schools to focus on improving remote learning.
Other key findings from the poll found that while over a third of parents said that their kid was learning less than they would in normal times, about 40% said they were learning as much as they were before COVID. Meanwhile, of course, 80% of teachers disagreed and felt that their students were learning less. And the number of parents who want to cancel standardized tests or keep them in place? That’s split right down the middle. Go figure.
The poll, which was released by the National Parents Union, a pro-charter school and school choice group, obviously has its statistical limitations — 1,000 parents interviewed does not an entire population of American parents make. Nevertheless, it’s a compelling portrait of what school looks like for many kids and how parents are thinking about education at this point during the COVID-19 crisis.