A new poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies suggests many Canadian parents are on the fence about whether to send their kids to school if and when classrooms are reopened.
Fifty-nine per cent of respondents with children said they would send their kids to school if there is some type of classroom instruction at least a few days a week. But 18 per cent said they would keep children at home while the remaining 23 per cent said they didn’t know.
The Leger online poll of 1,517 Canadians over age 18 — of which 391 were parents with children in their households — took place July 24 to 26. The poll cannot be given a margin of error because it is not a random sample.
Many provinces have yet to decide whether to reopen schools and, if so, whether to do so full-time or with some type of hybrid model involving some in-class instruction possibly bolstered by online courses.
Parents in Quebec had a more practical approach to school re-openings outside Montreal in the spring, with voluntary attendance. Parents in Alberta were most likely to keep their kids home while those in B.C. were most likely to be undecided.
Parents were more united on implementing safeguards to prevent students and teachers from contracting COVID-19, including mandatory temperature checks for children (82 per cent support), protective masks for school staff (81 per cent) and screening questionnaires (77 per cent).
Two-thirds were also supportive of students having to wear masks. Support for the measure was strongest in Ontario, which has seen a resurgence in COVID-19 cases in the past week, and weakest in Atlantic Canada, which has seen far fewer cases.
When asked about their reaction to a student or teacher in their child’s class testing positive for COVID-19, 45 percent said they would respond by following the school’s advice, while half said they would keep them home for at least two weeks (30 percent) or indefinitely (20 percent).
And while many parents had plans for juggling some type of school schedule or model that will see students stay at home at least part of the time, 13 per cent said they did not know what they would do and 16 per cent said they would alternate going into work with a spouse.
Forty-one per cent of all respondents said they would be more worried about personally contracting COVID-19 if schools reopen while 48 per cent said it did not change their fears either way. This is a reflection of already-high concerns about the illness.
The bottom line is the risks of having schools closed are just as high and the costs of a poor education is steep.