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FEA Survey: Florida’s public school parents fearful of in-person schooling

Posted at 2:54 PM, Aug 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-13 14:54:21-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A new survey shows growing concerns and declining confidence in the governor from Florida’s public school parents along with deep concerns and genuine fear of sending children back into in-person classrooms.

The survey of 500 public school parents was commissioned by the Florida Education Association, Florida’s largest teachers’ union.

Officials say the survey was designed to gauge how parents felt about the state of Florida’s current back-to-school policies, which encourage in-classroom, in-person schooling.

“The idea that children will be sent back into overcrowded classrooms at a time when COVID-19 is raging through our state is causing a great deal of alarm among parents of public school children,” said FEA President Fedrick Ingram. “It is clear that the direction-less and often contradictory policies coming from both the governor and the commissioner of education have led to confusion and growing concerns among parents – especially when it comes to sending their children physically back into classrooms.”

The survey was conducted July 24 through July 28 by Clearview Polling and Research through the text-to-web model, meaning that potential participants received a text message containing a unique link to the survey on the web.

The 500 participants are parents of children in Florida’s public schools, PreK-12.

Key takeaways from the survey:

  • Parents are scared of COVID-19 and are worried about what re-opening schools will do to the health of their children and their families.

A whopping 77% of parents feel it is dangerous to send “children to school at a time like this,” with a very high 55% saying it is “very dangerous.”

Nearly half (49%) say they will not send their children back into an in-person classroom, and more than 7 in 10 (72%) say that they are worried that their children will bring home COVID-19 if they attend in-person schooling.

  • Teachers are the most trusted voice on opening schools … “when it comes to education policy during the coronavirus pandemic”:

>82% trust teachers >70% trust the local school district
>63% trust the local superintendent of schools
>37% trust Gov. Ron DeSantis

  • Parents have lost faith in Gov. DeSantis to make decisions on re-opening schools. In a similar poll conducted in May, DeSantis was trusted to make these decisions by 62% of parents while 28% said they did not trust him. Since then his numbers have cascaded. Now only 37% say they trust him, while a majority (55%) do not.
  • Only 29% of parents believe we should start in-person, in-classroom school – even with social distancing in place.

This too represents a significant drop as more than 4 in 10 (42%) felt it was okay to go back to traditional in-classroom learning in the May poll.

Half (49%) prefer beginning the year with distance learning and delaying in-person classrooms and another 21% wish the school year could be delayed altogether until it is safe.

In summary, President Ingram called for an immediate statewide halt to the mandate that schools require in-classroom options for families.

“Parents are genuinely afraid for the safety and well-being of their children, their families, and school employees, and they have good reason to be. Our state needs to enact policies that put the lives of these children at the forefront of our decision-making,” Ingram said.

The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest association of professional employees, with 150,000 members. FEA represents pre-K-12 teachers, higher education faculty, educational staff professionals, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers and retired education employees.