Schools and the Coronavirus: What We Found in a Survey of 500 Parents

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2 min read

On March 5, 2020, the Northshore School District in Bothell, WA announced that it would close all schools for up to 14 days due to coronavirus concerns. Coronavirus, or COVID-19, has become a growing concern for many individuals worldwide, including parents in the United States.

In an effort to gauge current sentiment among this group, we surveyed 532 parents of K-12 students across the U.S. Their responses help to paint a clear picture of how coronavirus may impact American education in the near future. 

How familiar are parents with the coronavirus, and what are their beliefs about it?

Given the widespread media coverage of COVID-19, it comes as little surprise that parents are familiar with the virus. Of the 532 individuals we surveyed, 89.8% were at least somewhat familiar with coronavirus. Only 2.3% were not at all familiar with COVID-19.

Furthermore, a whopping 89.3% of respondents believed that the coronavirus was likely or very likely to spread further in the U.S.—10.7% felt that further spread was unlikely or very unlikely. One area where COVID-19 may spread is schools, a reality that left 42.7% of parents “very concerned.” 27.4% were “somewhat concerned,” 22.6% were “a little concerned,” and 7.3% were “not concerned at all.”

Further compounding parental concern is the sentiment that schools are not prepared for this illness. Two-thirds (or 66.5%) of respondents felt that schools were only a little prepared for coronavirus, or—worse—not prepared at all. That same percentage of parents (66.5%) indicated that schools had not sent any information home about COVID-19.

How are parents thinking about their children’s education in light of the coronavirus?

If more K-12 schools close in the weeks or months ahead, 69.2% of surveyed parents fear they will be impacted at least a moderate amount. In fact, almost three-fourths of respondents (70.3%) believed their family’s education would be negatively affected in a month or less. Only 17.7% felt that their children’s education wouldn’t be affected at all. 

Understandably, 89.9% of individuals felt that schools needed to have a back-up plan to address academic slide in the event of a closure. One option that schools and parents have begun to consider is online education resources like tutoring. 80.1% of parents said they would be likely or very likely to seek out supplemental online education if COVID-19 forced a school closure. In addition, if schools opted to conduct classes virtually, 67% of parents felt that online education would be the same or better than in-person education. 

Whether parents would ultimately choose virtual group classes, one-on-one online tutoring, or another supplemental option, their largest schooling concerns in the face of COVID-19 were as follows:

  • A decline in academic skills development
  • A decline in interpersonal/social skills
  • A decline in information retention
  • A decline in standardized test scores
  • A decline in grade level comprehension.  


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