Concerns about school reopenings in U.S. loom large: poll

An elementary school is closed due to the spread of COVID-19 in Plano, Texas, the United States, April 1, 2020. (Photo by Dan Tian/Xinhua)

WASHINGTON,   (Xinhua) — Few Americans want to see their local schools reopen for in-person instruction as usual or even with minor adjustments, said a new poll released on Wednesday.

Eight percent of Americans say their local K-12 schools should open for in-person instruction as usual and 14 percent think schools can reopen with minor adjustments, the survey, conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, showed.

According to the poll, 46 percent of Americans believe major adjustments are needed and 31 percent say schools shouldn’t open at all, while a majority of adults are concerned that sending students back to school would cause a surge in new COVID-19 infections in their community.

A primary school is closed due to COVID-19 in New York, the United States, March 16, 2020. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States is approaching 4 million, with more than 142,000 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University on Wednesday.

Along with safety concerns around reopening, a majority of parents also worry about potential academic impacts of the virus for their children.

Fifty-five percent of parents are concerned about their children falling behind academically. Fewer worry about having to deal with other responsibilities, finding childcare, or their child losing other school services such as counseling or school lunches.

Photo taken on March 20, 2020 shows a school closed due to COVID-19 epidemic in New Orleans, Louisiana, the United States. (Photo by Lan Wei/Xinhua)

Additionally, 63 percent of Americans disapprove of how President Donald Trump, who has urged schools to reopen in the fall, is handling education, while 36 percent approve. There are significant partisan differences: less than 10 percent Democrats approve along with more than 70 percent of Republicans.

The nationwide poll was conducted July 16-20 with 1,057 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus/minus 4.3 percentage points.  ■