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Abstract

An online survey was created and deployed from July 2 to July 20, 2020. Respondents received an invitation to participate in the survey from school districts, Parkview Sports Medicine, parent-teacher organizations, and via social media. Respondents were 18 years or older and had one or more children under 18 years in their household. A total of 9472 responses were collected; 9035 respondents met inclusion criteria. Descriptive statistics were calculated, and open-ended responses summarized. The current sample represented a wide range of respondents with children at varying school levels across 165 zip codes. One-third of respondents had a household member with increased risk of complications due to COVID-19, with 12% of households having a child with increased risk of complications. Respondents indicated that children had been practicing physical distancing in indoor public spaces more often than wearing masks. However, they expected that physical distancing would be more difficult than wearing masks at school, with handwashing being the least difficult precaution for children. More than half of respondents (58%) reported that their child(ren) had not experienced any negative effects on physical health or mental health due to COVID-19 restrictions or guidelines. Unfortunately, about 40% reported negative effects on child’s mental health due to COVID-19 restrictions or guidelines. Primarily, respondents were concerned that COVID-19 safety precautions would impact quality of education. When anticipating problems related to another school closure, about half of respondents expected difficulty managing their child’s remote learning. In open-ended comments, respondents mentioned issues related to feeling safe returning to school, COVID transmission mitigation practices at school, and a need to know whether students would be returning to school in-person and any deviation from a daily schedule. Taken together, findings reflect the extent to which individual factors shape a household’s experience of the COVID-19 pandemic, thus creating wide ranging perspectives on children returning to school. However, several opportunities emerged for providing accurate information about risks, plans, and safeguards to reduce COVID-19 spread.
PARENT FEELINGS ABOUT SCHOOL DURING COVID 1
PARKVIEW MIRRO CENTER FOR RESEARCH AND INNOVATION
Parkview Mirro Center for Research and Innovation
Parents’ Feelings about School Re-
opening during COVID-19: Survey
Results from Northeast Indiana
Health Services and Informatics Research Group
7-24-2020
PARENT FEELINGS ABOUT SCHOOL DURING COVID 2
PARKVIEW MIRRO CENTER FOR RESEARCH AND INNOVATION
This report was compiled by the following individuals:
- Mindy Flanagan, Ph.D.
- Brandon T. McDaniel, Ph.D.
- Michelle Drouin, Ph.D.
- Jessica Pater, Ph.D.
- Tammy Toscos, Ph.D.
This report reflects the analysis and interpretation by the team listed above and does not necessarily
express the views of Parkview Health and/or other partnering organizations.
Please cite as:
Flanagan, M., McDaniel, B. T., Drouin, M., Pater, J., Toscos, T. (2020). Parents feelings about
school re-opening during COVID-19: Survey results from Northeast Indiana. Parkview Mirro
Center for Research and Innovation.
PARENT FEELINGS ABOUT SCHOOL DURING COVID 3
PARKVIEW MIRRO CENTER FOR RESEARCH AND INNOVATION
Objective:
Assess concerns and attitudes related to child(ren)’s
return to school amid the COVID-19 pandemic among
parents in Northeast Indiana.
Method:
An online survey was created and deployed from July 2
to July 20, 2020. Respondents received an invitation to
participate in the survey from school districts, Parkview
Sports Medicine, parent-teacher organizations, and via
social media. Respondents were 18 years or older and
had one or more children under 18 years in their
household. A total of 9472 responses were collected;
9035 respondents met inclusion criteria. Five zip codes
in Northeast Indiana accounted for 58.3% of all surveys
(see Figure 1). Descriptive statistics were calculated,
and open-ended responses summarized.
Results:
Sample Demographics
The modal age of respondents was 35-44 years (49.16%) and majority of respondents were
White (86.08%, see Table 1). Respondents represented 165 zip codes (99% of zip codes in
Indiana). Of respondents, 33.60% (3036/9035) indicated at least one household member was at
increased risk of complications related to COVID-19 due to underlying conditions.
Table 1. Sample demographics (n=9035)
Characteristic
Frequency
Percent
Age (years)
18-24
64
0.71
25-34
1872
20.72
35-44
4441
49.16
45-54
2266
25.09
55-64
321
3.55
65-74
64
0.71
75 or older
5
0.06
Racial Category
American Indian
12
0.13
Asian
74
0.82
Black
162
1.79
Figure 1. Survey responses by zip code in Indiana
PARENT FEELINGS ABOUT SCHOOL DURING COVID 4
PARKVIEW MIRRO CENTER FOR RESEARCH AND INNOVATION
Hispanic
208
2.3
Multiracial/Other
353
3.91
Pacific Islander
5
0.06
White
7777
86.08
Declined
444
4.91
Number of children age 18 or
younger in household
1
2491
27.59
2
3615
40.04
3 or more
2922
32.37
Household member with
increased risk for complications
with COVID-19
Respondent
1395
15.44
Spouse/partner
923
10.22
Child(ren)
1089
12.05
Other household member
601
6.65
County
Allen, IN
4300
49.37
DeKalb, IN
1725
19.8
Noble, IN
1148
13.18
Wabash, IN
311
3.57
Wells, IN
691
7.93
Whitley, IN
278
3.19
All other counties***
257
2.95
***Note: All other counties had fewer than 65 respondents each
(Adams, IN; Defiance, OH; Huntington, IN; Kosciusko, IN; LaGrange,
IN; Paulding, OH; Steuben, IN; Van Wert, OH; or Other)
As shown in Table 2, 56.95% (5125/8999) of respondents had at least one child in elementary
school, 36.38% (3274/8999) had one or more in middle school, and 47.75% (4297/8999) had
one or more in high school.
Table 2. Number of children in household by school level (n=8999)
School Level
Number of
children, n(%)
Preschool
Elementary
Middle
High
0
7752 (86.14)
3874 (43.05)
5725 (63.62)
4702 (52.25)
1
1126 (12.51)
3097 (34.41)
2806 (31.18)
3205 (35.62)
2
111 (1.23)
1652 (18.36)
400 (4.44)
940 (10.45)
3 or more
10 (0.11)
376 (4.18)
68 (0.76)
152 (1.69)
Note: Percentages calculated by column totals
PARENT FEELINGS ABOUT SCHOOL DURING COVID 5
PARKVIEW MIRRO CENTER FOR RESEARCH AND INNOVATION
Perceived Negative Impact of COVID-19 on Children
Negative effects on children due to COVID-19 restrictions or guidelines were endorsed by
22.18% (1703/7679) of respondents for mental health, 2.01% (154/7679) for physical health
only, 17.96% (1379/7679) for both effects. Meanwhile, 57.86% (4443/7679) reported neither
negative effect.
Type of School Child Attended and Will Now Attend
Respondents specified the type(s) of school (private, public, homeschool) their child or children
attended in the 2019-2020 school year: 1420 had a child in private school, 7723 in public
school, and 197 homeschooled. Additionally, respondents indicated what type of schools they
planned to send their child(ren) to for the 2020-2021 school year: 1368 planned on private, 7370
planned on public, and 779 planned on homeschooling. The majority (93.94%, 7255/7723) with
a child or children that had attended public school in 2019-2020 term planned for their child(ren)
to attend public school in 2020-2021 term. Similarly, 87.89% (1248/1420) that had attended
private school in 2019-2020 term planned for their child(ren) to attend private school in 2020-
2021 term. Interestingly, 7.59% (642/8459) respondents indicated that their child or children
were not homeschooled in 2019-2020 term but planned on homeschooling for 2020-2021 term,
a 226% increase.
Current Level of Following COVID-19 Precautions
Respondents specified the frequency with which their child(ren) followed precautions for
mitigating COVID-19 transmission (see Table 3). Interestingly, 30.32% (2345/7734) of parents
reported their children wear masks ‘always or almost always’ in indoor public places; and,
18.79% (1453/7734) of parents reported their children ‘never’ wear masks in indoor public
places. In contrast, 12.06% (936/7758) of parents reported their children wear masks ‘always or
almost always’ in outdoor public places; and, 38.14% (2959/7758) of parents reported their
children ‘never’ wear masks in outdoor public places. Handwashing after leaving public spaces
was nearly equally reported as ‘always or almost always’ for outdoors (48.82%, 3796/7775) and
indoors (50.50%, 3906/7734).
Table 3. Parent reported frequency of child’s precautions for mitigating COVID-19 transmission
in outdoor and indoor public spaces
Child’s precautions
in public, n(%)
n
Never
Rarely
Some-
times
Often
Always or
Almost
always
Not
Applicable
Outdoor public spaces
Mask
7758
2959
(38.14)
1617
(20.84)
1372
(17.68)
554
(7.14)
936
(12.06)
320
(4.12)
Maintain 6 feet
distance
7775
428
(5.50)
969
(12.46)
2095
(26.95)
2047
(26.33)
1962
(25.23)
274
(3.52)
PARENT FEELINGS ABOUT SCHOOL DURING COVID 6
PARKVIEW MIRRO CENTER FOR RESEARCH AND INNOVATION
Clean hands after
leaving
7775
143
(1.84)
423
(5.44)
1200
(15.43)
1952
(25.11)
3796
(48.82)
261
(3.36)
Touch face
7767
200
(2.57)
1571
(20.23)
3512
(45.22)
1713
(22.05)
528
(6.80)
243
(3.13)
Indoor public spaces
Mask
7734
1453
(18.79)
1216
(15.72)
1516
(19.60)
820
(10.60)
2345
(30.32)
384
(4.97)
Maintain 6 feet
distance
7737
286
(3.70)
679
(8.78)
1805
(23.33)
2269
(29.33)
2337
(30.21)
361
(4.67)
Clean hands after
leaving
7734
140
(1.81)
389
(5.03)
1264
(16.34)
1681
(21.74)
3906
(50.50)
354
(4.58)
Touch face
7724
303
(3.92)
1718
(22.24)
3455
(44.73)
1412
(18.28)
493
(6.38)
343
(4.44)
Note: Percentages calculated from row totals
Child Difficulty Maintaining COVID-19 Precautions at School
As shown in Table 4, parents expected children to have difficulty maintaining precautions
against COVID-19 transmission. About half of middle school students (50.84%, 1757/3368) and
70% (3759/5264) of elementary students were expected to have difficulty wearing a mask. Also,
at least half of respondents noted that it would be difficult for their child (of any age) to maintain
distance from others, however physical distancing was especially likely to be perceived as
difficult for those in preschool and elementary school.
Table 4. Parent reported child difficulty maintaining precautions for mitigating COVID-19
transmission during a typical school day by school level
School Level
Precaution, n(%)
Preschool
(n=1281)
Elementary
(n=5264)
Middle
(n=3368)
High
(n=4473)
Mask
1126 (75.67)
3759 (69.96)
1757 (50.84)
2012 (44.45)
Maintain 6 feet
distance
1149 (76.14)
3939 (73.20)
2012 (57.52)
2334 (51.26)
Clean hands
after leaving
617 (42.06)
1780 (33.25)
863 (25.01)
1011 (22.35)
Touch face
1168 (91.18)
3859 (73.31)
1762 (52.32)
1820 (40.69)
Note: Percentages calculated from column totals
PARENT FEELINGS ABOUT SCHOOL DURING COVID 7
PARKVIEW MIRRO CENTER FOR RESEARCH AND INNOVATION
Parental Concerns for the 2020-2021 School Year
Table 5 displays responses for parental concerns for the 2020-2021 school year. As shown,
46.28% (3593/7763) of respondents were ‘very concerned’ about quality of educational
opportunities. Interestingly, responses for school will be fully open were split, 29.97%
(2320/7740) reported being ‘very concerned’ and 29.63% (2293/7740) reported ‘not at all
concerned’. (See Figure 2 in the Appendix A for graphical depiction.)
Table 5. Parental concerns related to COVID-19 for the 2020-2021 school term
Concern
n
Very
concerned
Moderately
concerned
Somewhat
concerned
Not at all
concerned
Quality of educational
opportunities
7763
3593
(46.28)
1968
(25.35)
1503
(19.36)
699
(9.00)
My child having limited
interaction with teachers and
other children while at school
7759
3391
(43.70)
2072
(26.70)
1631
(21.02)
665
(8.57)
Gym class, sports or other
extracurricular activities like
band and theatre
7761
3374
(43.47)
1782
(22.96)
1514
(19.51)
1091
(14.06)
Teachers or staff contracting
COVID-19
7752
3217
(41.50)
1699
(21.92)
2025
(26.12)
811
(10.46)
School will only be online
7761
3168
(40.82)
1395
(17.97)
1460
(18.81)
1738
(22.39)
My other family members or
myself contracting COVID-19
7761
2961
(38.15)
1498
(19.30)
2035
(26.22)
1267
(16.33)
My child/ren contracting
COVID-19
7761
2950
(38.01)
1457
(18.77)
2130
(27.44)
1224
(15.77)
Child anxiety related to school
precautions
7758
2829
(36.47)
1858
(23.95)
1825
(23.52)
1246
(16.06)
Cleanliness of school and
buses
7748
2665
(34.40)
1390
(17.94)
1814
(23.41)
1879
(24.25)
Bus transportation and children
sitting close to each other on
the bus
7565
2463
(32.56)
1006
(13.30)
1273
(16.83)
2823
(37.32)
School or child's classroom
closing with very little notice
7751
2459
(31.72)
1515
(19.55)
1714
(22.11)
2063
(26.62)
School will be fully open
7740
2320
(29.97)
1338
(17.29)
1789
(23.11)
2293
(29.63)
Note: Percentages calculated from row totals
PARENT FEELINGS ABOUT SCHOOL DURING COVID 8
PARKVIEW MIRRO CENTER FOR RESEARCH AND INNOVATION
Problems if School or Child’s Classroom Closed Due to Outbreak
Additionally, respondents were asked to anticipate what problems they would experience if their
child’s school closed due to an outbreak: 22.20% (1690/7613) expected problems with
childcare, 36.80% (2817/7654) problems with work commitments, 29.09% (2180/7495)
problems with partner’s work commitments, 48.01% (3697/7701) problem with managing child’s
remote learning, and 16.29% (1238/7601) problem with internet / computer access for child's
learning.
Parents’ Most Pressing Question Related to Children Returning to School
Respondents had the option to enter their most pressing question relating to children returning
to school. Half of respondents wrote in a question (50.44%, 4557/9035). The primary issues
related to the following.
1) Safety of returning to school. Parents expressed concerns over the safety and health
of their child and/or adults in the school, with some wondering how now is any different
than when schools closed or than other public events or gatherings, many of which are
still canceled or very limited.
2) COVID-19 spread in school and to household members. Parents wondered what
schools plans will actually look like day-to-day for managing the spread of the virus, how
schools will monitor students and staff for the illness, what quarantining and isolation will
look like, what will trigger shut downs, what will happen if the virus is brought by the child
home or to an at-risk family member or when the parent works with at-risk populations,
and so forth.
3) COVID-19 mitigation guidelines in school. Parents expressed concerns about mask
wearing (whether it will be mandatory, is it actually effective, displeasure with children
being required to wear masks, difficulty breathing in a mask), physical / social distancing
(how can 3 to 6 feet of distance be maintained, troubles getting children to maintain this),
how schools will manage and enforce their guidelines (children will constantly get in
trouble; how will schools practically monitor and enforce all of the hand washing,
cleaning, distancing, etc.), cleaning procedures (what will the procedures look like, are
these chemicals safe, will schools have sufficient cleaning supplies).
4) School schedule and instructional modality (in-person and remote). Parents were
concerned about what the school schedule and instruction will actually look like, what e-
learning options would be available, how different types of school schedules could
impact their families and work schedules, and so forth.
5) Impacts on education and learning. Parents were concerned about the quality of
education and learning experiences children will have, including things such as students
already being behind from last year, whether the mitigation guidelines and adjusted
school schedules/modalities will negatively impact the quality of instruction and learning,
expressions of how remote learning did not go well for their child last time, negative
PARENT FEELINGS ABOUT SCHOOL DURING COVID 9
PARKVIEW MIRRO CENTER FOR RESEARCH AND INNOVATION
impacts on special education needs, how to maintain consistency between in-person
and remote learning, whether school will end up looking more like a prison, and so forth.
6) Mental health concerns. Parents were concerned over the potential impacts on
children’s mental health, expressing concerns over the elimination of or changes to
recess or in-school play, whether social needs are being met, the potential spread of and
focus on fear and anxiety, how to assist children and staff with anxiety and feeling safe,
long-term impacts on mental health, mental health of those children who suffered and
had no access to peers during remote learning, and so forth.
Conclusions:
The current sample represented a wide range of respondents with children at varying school
levels across 165 zip codes. One-third of respondents had a household member with increased
risk of complications due to COVID-19, with 12% of households having a child with increased
risk of complications. Respondents indicated that children had been practicing physical
distancing in indoor public spaces more often than wearing masks. However, they expected that
physical distancing would be more difficult than wearing masks at school, with handwashing
being the least difficult precaution for children. More than half of respondents (58%) reported
that their child(ren) had not experienced any negative effects on physical health or mental
health due to COVID-19 restrictions or guidelines. Unfortunately, about 40% reported negative
effects on child’s mental health due to COVID-19 restrictions or guidelines.
Primarily, respondents were concerned that COVID-19 safety precautions would impact quality
of education. When anticipating problems related to another school closure, about half of
respondents expected difficulty managing their child’s remote learning. In open-ended
comments, respondents mentioned issues related to feeling safe returning to school, COVID
transmission mitigation practices at school, and a need to know whether students would be
returning to school in-person and any deviation from a daily schedule. Taken together, findings
reflect the extent to which individual factors shape a household’s experience of the COVID-19
pandemic, thus creating wide ranging perspectives on children returning to school. However,
several opportunities emerged for providing accurate information about risks, plans, and
safeguards to reduce COVID-19 spread.
APPENDIX A.
Figure 2. Parental concerns related to COVID-19 for the 2020-2021 school term
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