BOSTON (AP) -
Virtual instruction. Mandated masks. Physical distancing. The start of
school will look very different this year because of the coronavirus - and
that’s OK with the vast majority of Americans.
Only about 1 in 10
Americans think daycare centers, preschools or K-12 schools should open this
fall without restrictions, according to a new poll from The Associated
Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs. Most think mask requirements and other
safety measures are necessary to restart in-person instruction, and roughly
3 in 10 say that teaching kids in classrooms shouldn’t happen at all.
The findings are a
sharp contrast to the picture that President Donald Trump paints as he
pressures schools to reopen. Trump said Wednesday that he would be
“comfortable” with his son Barron and grandchildren attending school in
person this fall.
“I would like to
see the schools open,” he told reporters.
however, plan to return to business as usual. Many of the nation’s largest
school districts have announced that they’ll be entirely virtual in the fall
or use a hybrid model that has children in classrooms only a couple of days
The poll finds only
8% of Americans say K-12 schools should open for normal in-person
instruction. Just 14% think they can reopen with minor adjustments, while
46% think major adjustments are needed. Another 31% think instruction should
not be in person this fall. It’s little different among the parents of
The poll also shows
Americans feel the same about colleges and universities reopening this fall.
little confidence in Trump’s handling of education issues. Only 36% say they
approve of Trump’s performance, while 63% disapprove. But a stark political
divide on opening schools suggests many Republicans are taking cues from the
About 9 in 10
Democrats say requiring students and staff to wear masks is essential to
reopening, while only about half of Republicans say the same. Democrats are
roughly twice as likely as Republicans to say schools should use a mix of
in-person and virtual instruction to reduce the number of students in
buildings, 77% to 39%.
Patty Kasbek, of
Bartlesville, Oklahoma, said she desperately wants her two children, ages 5
and 10, to return to school. After months at home, the family is stressed
and anxious. But with the virus surging, she doesn’t see a safe way to
even be considered right now,” said Kasbek, 40. “We need to get this under
control before we play with the virus. It’s just too dangerous to put our
kids out there like guinea pigs.”
Her local school
district is planning to reopen with new safety measures, she said, but she’s
opting to enroll her children in a virtual school. She isn’t as worried
about her own health but fears that reopening schools could spread the virus
“I just see it
going very badly, and I’m very, very worried for the teachers,” said Kasbek,
who considers herself a Democrat.
The poll finds a
majority of Americans, 56%, say they are very or extremely concerned that
reopening schools will lead to additional infections in their communities;
another 24% are somewhat concerned.
Majorities say it
is essential that buildings be disinfected daily, temperature checks and
face masks be mandatory and desks be spread apart if schools are to reopen.
And 6 in 10 think a
mix of in-person and virtual instruction is necessary, to limit the number
of students inside at one time. Some of the nation’s largest districts,
including New York City’s schools , plan to use that model.
The poll finds
about half of parents saying they are at least somewhat concerned about
their child losing services like school lunches or counseling because of the
More say they are
worried about their child falling behind academically: 55% are very
concerned, with another 21% somewhat concerned.
A majority of
parents, 65%, are at least somewhat concerned about their own ability to