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Poll: Parents concerned children falling behind during school closures

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{ FOR O'BRIEN STORY } Lockers in the hallway at Kenmore East High School, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012. {Photo by Derek Gee / Buffalo News}

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Eight in 10 public school parents who responded to a new survey said their school has done a good or excellent job in providing learning materials while closed due to the novel coronavirus.

But 90% of them said also they're concerned their child will fall behind academically.

And there are gaps between what has been available to parents during the early weeks of the Covid-19 school closures and what they want as learning continues at home.

Those are a few of the findings from a new poll released Wednesday by the Education Trust-New York, a nonprofit that advocates for students of color and low income.

The poll, conducted by Global Strategy Group, surveyed 1,200 parents of children in public schools across New York State between March 15 and April 1 and asked them about:

  • Transition to home learning: Statewide, 81% said their school did a “good” or “excellent” job of making instruction available while schools are closed. More than half said they received “a lot” of information about available resources, while two-thirds said they get information from their schools three times a week or more.
  • Concerns: 89% of parents are concerned their child will fall behind academically. That ranked as the biggest concern among parents, even more so than being able to provide financially for their child during this time.
  • Stress: 82% of parents reported higher levels of stress than usual during this time of school closures.
  • Wants: The poll showed wide disparities between what parents wanted from schools and what was being made available. For example, 92% of parents said it would be helpful to have more technical assistance from schools setting up distance learning at home, while only a third said they were receiving that support. Regular contact with their child’s teacher would be most helpful to parents, the survey showed.
  • Needs: While 88% of parents said their school is using, or will use, distance learning, low-income parents were less likely to say remote learning has been successful. The poll highlights some of the barriers, including not enough devices in the home and the lack of reliable, high-speed internet.

“The pandemic is an educational equity crisis for vulnerable students who were too often underserved by our education system in ‘normal’ times,” said Ian Rosenblum, executive director of the Education Trust-New York.

“State leaders, school and district leaders, and teachers and other school personnel are making incredible efforts to support students during this unprecedented and difficult period, and the views of parents expressed in this poll should provide even more urgency to focus on the needs of students who are low-income, students of color, English learners, and students with disabilities as school closures continue,” Rosenblum said.

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