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

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

Sean Hart, 34, unexpectedly left the Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health Facility in Saanich on Nov. 6, 2020 and has now been missing for six months. (Photo courtesy Penny Hart)
Search continues for Saanich man Sean Hart six months after his disappearance

Support from community, police keeps his mother hopeful

Oak Bay resident Hugh Thompson died Friday, May 7. (GoFundMe photo)
Oak Bay dad dies mountain biking near Shawnigan Lake

Community rallies around family with online fundraiser

Daniel Foster, last seen in downtown Parksville on Saturday, May 1. (submitted photo)
RCMP seek help locating missing Victoria man, last spotted in Parksville

Daniel Foster, 43, seen via surveillance camera using an ATM

Police stopped, then let go this man and his large collection of cans during a stop Monday morning on Resthaven Drive. Police had received a report of a possible theft, but let him go after he had returned the property, which he believed was his to take after being left out in public. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Report of theft, balancing act on Sidney street draws curious onlookers

Incident happened just before 8:30 a.m. opposite of Vancouver Island Regional Library branch

Victoria Police Department looks to identify a person of interest after a Friday night stabbing. (VicPD handout)
Police seek person of interest after Victoria stabbing

Friday night assault leaves one with potentially life-altering injuries

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

Most Read