(HealthDay)—Almost 90% of U.S. parents plan to send their kids back to the classroom this fall, but fewer than 60% plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine for those who are old enough, a new poll reveals.
Anxiety is also high among many parents, who wonder just how safe in-person learning will be as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads nationwide and the pandemic grinds on.
"To feel safe sending their children to school in-person, most parents—especially those still unsure about in-person schooling—want classroom ventilation, teachers to be vaccinated, and social distancing in schools, in that order," said Heather Schwartz, director of Pre-K to 12 educational systems at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.
Those are key takeaways from RAND's July poll of a representative sample of 3,146 U.S. parents with kids between 5 and 18 years of age.
Though most middle and high school students are eligible for the COVID-19 shot, just 57% of respondents said they planned to get their child vaccinated, the survey found.
The percentage was higher among vaccinated parents, with about 79% planning to have their kids get the jab.
About 10% of unvaccinated parents said they planned to get shots for their children, the findings showed.
Despite a nationwide tsunami of new COVID-19 infections, including ones in children, a growing number of parents plan to send their kids back to classrooms.
In July, 89% said they planned to do so, compared to 84% in May. The percentage was higher for white parents (94%), than for Black parents (82%) or Hispanic parents (83%), the poll found.
It revealed that parents of kids under age 12—who are too young to get vaccinated—were as likely as parents of older children to send them back to school.
COVID-19 was among the top reasons for parents who are not sending their kids to in-person school—outranking concerns about racial discrimination, bullying or schools teaching critical race theory.
At least two-thirds of Black respondents, Hispanic respondents and Asian respondents said they needed ventilation in classrooms, vaccinated teachers, social distancing, mandatory masking and regular COVID-19 testing in order to feel safe sending their kids to school.
Fewer white parents said they needed these practices in place in order to feel safe, according to a RAND news release.
Slightly more than half of parents supported voluntary, free weekly COVID-19 testing at school. About three out of four supported testing if their child showed symptoms. Parents opposed to in-school COVID-19 testing most often expressed concern that it would be uncomfortable for kids.
Despite concerns, roughly only 27% of parents knew in detail which COVID-19 safety measures their child's school had planned.
Six in 10 said they wanted to know more. That same number said a school staff member—often the principal—was their most trusted source of information about school safety measures.
More information: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers guidance for COVID-19 prevention in schools.
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