Parents want in-person classes. Summer school? Not so much.

By Juan Perez Jr. 04/08/2021 05:24 PM EDT

A large majority of American parents say they want children learning in person next school year, according to a new poll from POLITICO and Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. And many parents want teachers to be vaccinated before returning to work and tend to side with the Biden administration’s controversial call on standardized testing.

Overall, 71 percent of public school parents and guardians want traditional classroom instruction for their children next school year. Sixteen percent said they want a hybrid of remote and in-person instruction, while 13 percent said they prefer remote learning.

Roughly three-quarters of public school parents and guardians favor requiring Covid-19 vaccinations for teachers before school workers are allowed to remain in classrooms or return to work. Approximately two-thirds of the overall public share that view, according to results from a telephone survey of 1,008 adults conducted between March 16-21.

Approximately 6 in 10 parents and guardians said they favor keeping schools closed until the Covid-19 outbreak is less severe, but the number of Americans who want their children back in normal classes next school year suggests there’s widespread optimism the pandemic will be winding down by fall and students will be able to attend school in person.

Support for standardized testing: The poll results also suggest parents and guardians favor a rigorous academic push once regular classes resume.

Sixty-four percent said they favor resuming standardized testing requirements that had been waived during the pandemic, while 54 percent said they favor holding students back if they don’t meet grade-level benchmarks.

Support for extending the school year through the summer, however, is split.

Hybrid or remote classes still widespread: Approximately 80 percent of the nation’s public schools were open for some in- person instruction in February, new federal data said.

But more than half of Black, Hispanic and Asian fourth graders learned in a fully remote setting in February, according to the latest from an Education Department Institute of Education Sciences survey of thousands of schools. Nearly half of white fourth graders attended school on a full-time, in-person basis during that same time frame.

Progress on teacher vaccinations: Nearly 80 percent of pre-K-12 teachers, school staff and child care workers received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by the end of March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated this week.

According to the CDC, more than 2 million school and child care workers were vaccinated through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program in March. Another 5 million to 6 million were vaccinated through state programs through the end of last month. The American Federation of Teachers said 81 percent of its members were either vaccinated or had an appointment for a shot, citing a Hart Research Associates survey the union conducted between March 26 and April 1.

The margin of error for the full sample of POLITICO and Harvard’s survey respondents was plus or minus 3.6 percentage points, and plus or minus 9.4 percentage points for questions asked of public school student parents or guardians.

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