An increasing number of school districts across the United States have announced that they will provide entirely remote learning when school resumes this fall. Others, like New York City, continue to consider alternatives, including hybrid models in which students attend school part-time. While many other countries have succeeded in reopening schools without a resurgence of cases (with some notable exceptions), they reopened in a very different context, with rates of infection in the community far lower than in many places in the United States. On the other hand, the federal government, and some state governments, continue to focus on the importance of reopening. Another complication is the role of teachers’ unions, who have expressed discomfort about their teachers’ safety and their ability to provide a safe environment for students. And among schools already reopening, some students have already tested positive for COVID-19.
Parents of school-age children thus confront difficult decisions about their children’s education - decisions that will hinge on whether they believe schools can be made safe. We surveyed 19,058 adults in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia for 2 weeks beginning July 10 and ending July 26, asking about their perception of the safety of returning to school. We also asked a subset of respondents whether they support reopening schools for in-person classes in the fall. We further aimed to understand whether these comfort levels vary depending on rates of infection in their community, and on other attitudes about COVID-19.