An elementary school in Montreal North is seen, Thursday, May 14, 2020 in Montreal. A new poll suggests more than half of parents plan to send their kids to school if and when they reopen, but that a significant number remain on the fence amid concerns about COVID-19.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Parents divided over sending kids back to school: Poll

Parents were more united on implementing safeguards to prevent students and teachers from contracting COVID-19

As the clock ticks down to September, a new poll suggests many Canadian parents are on the fence about whether to send their kids to school if and when classrooms are reopened.

The poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies comes as provincial governments are working on how to get students back into classrooms, most of which have been shuttered since mid-March due to COVID-19.

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.

“We’re five weeks away from what’s a normal back-to-school time and still a quarter of parents don’t know what they’ll do,” Leger vice-president Christian Bourque said, adding: “A lot of it is still up in the air because provinces have really not made all their decisions.”

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 were most likely to say they planned to send their children back to school. The province reopened schools 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.

“All of this in terms of trying to protect staff and children seems to be making sense to parents,” Bourque said. ”People still feel the importance of safety first, protection first, over the fun of being in school.”

Respondents were also asked how they would respond to a student or teacher in their child’s class testing positive for COVID-19. Forty-five per cent said they would respond by following the school’s advice, while half said they would keep them home for at least two weeks (30 per cent) or indefinitely (20 per cent).

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.

“This will require a lot of flexibility from employers in the fall because most people expect that we will be confronted with some type of hybrid model of how our children go back to school,” Bourque said.

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. Bourque suggested that was a reflection of already-high concerns about the illness.

Fifty-seven per cent of respondents said they were somewhat or very afraid of getting COVID-19 versus 41 per cent who were not.

READ MORE: Premier wants parents to have Plan B if COVID-19 disrupts September school plans

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusSchools

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The bobsled race has traditionally been a staple event at the carnival. File photo
Upcoming Rossland Winter Carnival cancelled due to COVID-19 crisis

This is the first time the carnival won’t be held in decades

A tender for the project will be sent out on BC Bid. Photo: B.C. Government
Nakusp Elementary School child care centre set to open in May 2022

Conceptual drawings and project timelines for centre have already been complete

People participating at a Remembrance Day event in Nakusp in 2016. Photo: Jillian Trainor
Scaled-down Remembrance Day event to take place in Nakusp

People are asked to physically distance and wear masks if they attend the event

A view of proposed seniors housing on Vernon St. Illustration: City of Nelson/ Vendure Retirement Communities
Nelson seniors housing project to start construction in the spring

Private development on Vernon Street will provide assisted living services as well as housing

test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
Interior Health records third COVID-19 death

A new community outbreak was reported at Okanagan Men’s Centre in Lake Country

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie “The Name of the Rose” at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

Oscar-winner was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Most Read