DDN poll: Parents split on in-person classes as COVID-19 cases rise

FILE- A student’s temperature is taken at an elementary school in Smithfield, R.I., Oct. 8, 2020. Researchers once feared that school reopenings might spread the coronavirus through communities. But so far there is little evidence that it’s happening. (David Degner/The New York Times)
FILE- A student’s temperature is taken at an elementary school in Smithfield, R.I., Oct. 8, 2020. Researchers once feared that school reopenings might spread the coronavirus through communities. But so far there is little evidence that it’s happening. (David Degner/The New York Times)

Many of the respondents to a Dayton Daily News online poll said they support some form of in-person classes for students amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Of the 452 people who answered the question, “What do you think is the most appropriate way for students to attend school right now?” 43 percent chose full-time virtual learning, 40 percent chose full-time in-person, and 18 percent chose hybrid (in-person some days, virtual others).

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The survey was conducted as part of a Dayton Daily News analysis of area school districts returning to in-person classes as COVID-19 case numbers rise in the region and state. For that story, the Dayton Daily News analyzed health department data and surveyed dozens of school officials and hundreds of parents about reopening plans.

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Several respondents to the parent survey said districts should keep remote-learning because in addition to COVID-19, flu season is approaching. Others said they were worried by climbing infection rates. Most parents who thought learning should remain virtual said it came down to student safety.

“Like grocery schools did for the elders, I think schools should be reducing the general population in schools as much as possible while spread is high,” said Allison Clark, who has middle- and high-schoolers in Dayton Public Schools. “However, schools should be doing that so they can focus on making in-person learning safe for students who do not thrive in virtual school, like students with special education needs.”

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Angie August, mom of a high schooler at Stivers School for the Arts, said she understands the dangers of COVID-19 — her sister had it and was on a ventilator — but she trusts DPS and her son to be able to safely return to school in-person.

“It sounds like they’re ready,” she said. “It sounds like they’re very careful and everything seems to be safe. Now it’s going to be up to the kids. It’s a risk. It’s definitely a risk, but it’s also a risk having him home all the time.”

The survey showed regional differences. Respondents from Montgomery County favored full-time online over full-time in-person nearly 2-to-1, while slightly more than half of those from Greene County preferred full-time in-person.

The school districts with the most respondents were Dayton, Centerville and Beavercreek.

Dayton parents overwhelmingly chose online, with many noting the spike in cases locally.

Most Centerville parents who responded said they want in-person schooling, though many prefer the hybrid model over full-time in-person to spread out the student population.

Beavercreek parents overwhelmingly chose in-person full-time. Several wrote that kids are at low risk of infection and schools have low rates of infection.

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