ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A report from the University of Michigan found one-third of parents surveyed don’t plan to send their children back to class in the fall.
The survey shed light on how uncomfortable many parents are to send their children back to school due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“I’m on the fence,” Stephenie, a mother from St. Clair Shores, said. “I know that they need school, but I am not sure that they are safe.”
“I don’t think anything will kind of reassure me to say, ‘Yes, he can go to school,‘” Dezare Williams, of Detroit, said.
Williams said her son, Dallas, is starting third grade in the fall.
“I don’t think he’s going back,” Williams said.
Stephanie has been talking to her 12- and 14-year-old children about whether they want to go back.
“My son -- he’s kind of afraid right now, and my daughter -- she needs school,” Stephanie said. “I think she really wants to go back.”
U of M’s study found two-thirds of parents will be sending their children back to school. But Black, Hispanic and Asian parents were less likely to say they will send all of their children to school, compared to White and non-Hispanic parents.
“We know more people who have died from the disease,” said Eboni Creighton, a mother and former elementary school teacher. “We’ve experienced family members and friends being sick. It’s very real in our communities.”
The study also found 40% of low-income households were unsure or had decided against sending all of their children to school.
“There’s a disparity because there are a lot of parents who can’t choose to stay home,” Creighton said. “They need to work in order to feed their families.”
As school districts prepare for a radically different return, the study found nearly two-thirds of parents supported the following proposals:
- Decreasing the number o children on buses.
- Alternating between in-person and virtual classes.
- Staggering arrival and pickup times.
- Random weekly COVID-19 testing for staff members.
“I want my son to be educated, but at the same time, we want them here, at the end of the day,” Williams said. “We don’t want to lose anyone.”