More Americans are worried about children falling behind academically than students and teachers catching and spreading the coronavirus in schools, according to a new poll published Wednesday.
61% of Americans said that children falling behind academically due to continued school closures should be given “a lot of consideration” as schools decide whether to reopen or not, according to a Pew Research Center poll of 10,121 adults conducted between Feb. 16 and Feb. 21. The poll’s margin of error was 1.6%.
Forty-eight percent of Americans believe that the risk of teachers catching and spreading the coronavirus should be given “a lot of consideration,” while 45% believe that students catching and spreading coronavirus should be given “a lot of consideration” when reopening schools.
NEW: Compared with last summer, a higher share of U.S. adults now say the possibility that students will fall behind academically without in-person instruction should be given a lot of consideration as schools decide whether to reopen. https://t.co/21HOLAwo39 pic.twitter.com/LXf8yGx5Dl
— Pew Research Center (@pewresearch) February 24, 2021
Despite these preferences, and a number of studies suggesting that children are at low risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus to teachers or amongst themselves, many school districts still offer only virtual classes. Many teachers unions have opposed in-person learning, at times advocating strikes. (RELATED: School Board Member Compares Reopening Schools Before Teachers Are Vaccinated To ‘Slavery’ And ‘White Supremacist Ideology’)
The Biden administration’s messaging on school reopenings has been muddled. Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky argued as a private citizen that students could safely sit three feet apart in classrooms, but revised that recommendation to six feet after her appointment. Press Secretary Jen Psaki was forced to walk back comments defining open as students attending school one day a week after President Joe Biden undercut her at a CNN town hall.