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Only 49% are in favour of the back to school plan, while 42% oppose it; if they were given a choice, only 27% of parents would choose to have their children in the classroom full-time, 41% would prefer a mix of online and in-person, and 27% would prefer remote online learning only

Vancouver, BC — As parents in British Columbia prepare their children for the upcoming school year, our latest poll confirms what John Horgan already suspected; that the current back to school plan doesn’t please everyone as parents are divided when it comes to their comfort level with their children going back to the classroom, divided about the idea of possibly wearing masks, and are split on preferences between online and in-person learning.

Following the provincial government’s back to school plans that were announced last week, only 49% support (including only 13% ‘strongly’) the directions that have been given, and 42% are opposed (including 14% ‘strongly’). The opinions of parents skew more in favour of the plan (58% support) vs. residents without children (46%) but only because those without children are more often not able to comment (1% of parents versus 11% of those without children). Just 51% of parents are feeling comfortable about sending their children back to school versus 49% who do not feel comfortable.

Parents throughout British Columbia express mixed views towards how their children are to be returning to the classroom, with a range of preferences of online, in-person and mixed options. The largest proportion of parents (41%) say that a mix of online and in-person learning would be preferred, while an equal number (27%) prefer a full-time in classroom learning environment or a remote learning full-time (27%).

Parents express a variety of opinions that shed light on why some prefer online learning versus in-person learning. Most parents are worried about their children’s isolation if they are going to be learning remotely, as 71% agree that “if there is not in-class learning, I worry about my child(ren)’s socialization”. A significant number of parents also feel that online learning has some deficiencies, with 63% agreeing that “my child(ren) need(s) in-person classes because online provides a poor quality of education”.

Concerns relating to childcare and or the lack thereof are high, as 49% agree that “if there is remote learning this fall, I don’t know how I’m going to manage”. Similarly, 46% agree that “in-person learning is needed because I don’t have childcare if my child(ren) stay(s) home”.

Parents are divided on the perceived safety of the back to school situation in September, as an approximately equal number agree (52%) or disagree (48%) that “I am confident that my child(ren) will be safe enough from COVID-19 if they return back to school full-time”.

Perhaps some of parents’ apprehension and uncertainty can be attributed to the lack of enough concrete and detailed information on their child’s return to school in September, as 80% agree that “I need more information and details about how back-to-school will work in September”, a number that is disproportionately higher among moms (89%) than dads (71%) in the province. Along the same lines, a similar number agree that “the provincial government is not providing parents with enough rules and guidelines” with respect to reopening.

Given Alberta’s announcement last week about mandatory facemask wearing in schools starting in September, Insights West posed the question to all British Columbians and found that there is a surprising level of support for facemask wearing for students of all ages as well as teachers and staff. Levels of support are highest for mandatory facemasks for teachers and staff (79% support), with progressively lower levels but still majority levels of support for different ages of children (high school 77%, middle school 73%, older children 67% and young children 58%). Interestingly, opposition towards mask-wearing is higher among parents than non-parents for all but the youngest children (where the two groups have more similar views), with results showing opposition to be about 10 points higher than among non-parents.

“Our latest poll on the state of readiness of parents and the general public to go back to school shows a significant level of fear and uncertainty around the provincial government’s plan for September” says Steve Mossop, president of Insights West. “Unlike the high levels of support for other provincial and/or federal programs during this pandemic, the public seems divided about the schooling situation due perhaps due to a lack of clarity, and the varied experience parents have had with their children’s online learning last school year.”

About Insights West:

Insights West is a full-service marketing research firm based in Western Canada. Since 2012, the company has conducted over one million surveys, executed 2,000 studies, and issued over 350 press releases on a variety of topics, correctly predicting the outcomes of 24 out of 25 elections and plebiscites. Insights West is a team of passionate, truth-seeking researchers who question everything to uncover the truth and what is emerging for a diverse set of clients. With an understanding of shifting markets, consumer and societal trends, and commitment to uncovering truths through a proprietary toolkit and innovative research approaches, Insights West helps organizations make better decisions.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from August 5-9, 2020 among a sample of 825 BC residents. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding. Click HERE to view the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
Insights West