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Very few want full reopening of schools, poll says

July 23, 2020
Only about 1 in 10 believe schools should reopen without restrictions, a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs finds.

Only about 1 in 10 Americans think K-12 schools, preschools or daycare centers should open this fall without restrictions, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs.

Most of those polled 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 says he would be “comfortable” with his son Barron and grandchildren attending school in person this fall.

Few schools, 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 a week.

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.

The poll also shows Americans feel the same about colleges and universities reopening this fall.

About 9 in 10 Democrats say requiring students and staff to wear masks is essential to reopening; 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%.

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 pandemic.

More say they are worried about their child falling behind academically: 55% are very concerned, with another 21% somewhat concerned.

The AP-NORC poll of 1,057 adults was conducted July 16-20. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

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