ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN)- Parents in New York believe the best scenario for children is for them to be in the classroom. They also believe a remote option should be available while COVID continues to be a factor, according to a new poll released from The Education Trust-New York.
The debate over the effectiveness of remote learning waged last year as many local districts chose hybrid options for students. It allowed for some time in the classroom and some time spent learning remotely.
Determined to return kids to the classroom full-time after a change in guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), districts planned for a return to in-person learning, albeit with health precautions in place. Outside of choosing to homeschool children, students were expected to return to school unless they have a health condition that puts them at a greater risk of complications from COVID.
Approximately one week after the beginning of the school year, Galway Central School District moved all of its students to remote learning temporarily after a number of students, and faculty or staff were diagnosed with, being tested, or being quarantined for COVID.
“The COVID-positivity rate and class closures in just the first week of school have sadly validated the concerns and fears of thousands of parents and families of sending their children into school buildings…In-person instruction is best, but only when parents feel secure about the health and safety of their children.,” said State Senator John Liu (D) Tuesday when the poll was released.
“Our district leaders must respect the wishes of parents and offer families the specific supports they need to ensure that their children can learn, grow, and thrive – now and in the future. Parents agree that in-person instruction is ideal, and they are aware of the many challenges that we are all facing,” said Education Trust Executive Director, Dia Bryant.
According to the Education Trust poll, 89% of parents in the state said in-person learning is “ideal”, and a majority of parents (Black-72%, Latinx-69%, and white-55%) said they would choose a remote option if it was available. A greater majority of New York City parents (79%) said they would choose remote.
The decision to have students wear masks or not had been left up to districts until the state stepped in, just before school started and days after Governor Kathy Hochul was sworn in at the end of August, saying masks would be required for all students come the beginning of the school year.
The state also said unvaccinated teachers and staff must be tested for COVID weekly and gave additional guidance on health measures like social distancing, contact tracing, and bus procedures.
The majority of parents support mask mandates (83%) and weekly COVID testing for unvaccinated teachers (86%), Education Trust said.
“We are now compelled to proceed with legislative remedies, including a state law to mandate remote learning under these circumstances,” said Senator Liu.
Further findings of the poll can be found on the Education Trust website.