A survey conducted by the Minnesota Department of Education found that the majority of parents would feel comfortable sending their children back to school this fall.
Between June 15 and July 6, the agency collected more than 130,000 responses to the informal survey, which was offered in English, Hmong, Spanish, and Somali. A total of 64 percent of respondents said they would feel comfortable sending their children back to school in September. Of that 64 percent, 94 percent said they would send their children back to school full time.
Less than 12 percent of respondents said they would not feel comfortable sending their children back to school, citing concerns about public health.
“We deeply appreciate and value the overwhelming response we received from our families,” Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker said in a press release.
“Our educators worked tirelessly this spring to create distance learning plans in just eight days, rethinking the way they educate and connect with our students in order to keep them healthy and safe. As we plan for the upcoming school year, we will listen to the experiences of our families, teachers, and students and the advice of public health experts to determine a safe path forward,” she added.
The survey also polled parents on the challenges and successes of distance learning. The most common selections for what was challenging during distance learning included: “students didn’t feel empowered to work on their own,” “students experiencing new mental health challenges due to COVID-pandemic,” and “hard to understand lessons.”
Three scenarios are possible for the 2020-21 school year, including continued distance learning, the resumption of in-person instruction, or a mix of the two. The state Department of Health, Department of Education, and Gov. Tim Walz won’t be deciding which option is the safest until the week of July 27.
In the meantime, school districts have been directed to develop contingency plans for all three scenarios.
Republican Senate candidate Jason Lewis said parents should be refunded for property tax payments and tuition if schools aren’t allowed to reopen in the fall.
“The more we learn about COVID, the more it becomes apparent that we have done a huge disservice to our children in the way we have handled this virus,” Lewis said in a statement released this week. “Research has proven that COVID presents minimal risks to young people. But what isn’t minimal is the toll this prolonged lockdown and social isolation has on our kids’ social, mental, and physical well-being.”
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