A little more than a month ago, we published the results of a poll showing that 55 percent of parents were “not at all confident” about the idea of their kids returning to school in the fall. COVID-19 numbers that day: 40,924.
Last week, we reissued the poll, shortly after Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced an “aspirational” goal of Aug. 17 as the start to in-classroom instruction. On that day, the number of diagnoses in our state was 112,000.
Today (diagnoses have climbed to 134,613), we are reporting the results of that second poll, to which 548 parents responded. A full 77 percent now say they are “not at all confident” about the planned start date. The remaining responses split evenly between “very confident” and “somewhat confident.”
We intended our question as a way to gauge parental anxiety about the prospect of their children mixing with large groups of other children and adults once in-person instruction resumes. To be fair, the question could have been interpreted in a different way.
One reader wrote to suggest it was a “trick question” and “I honestly don’t know what you’re looking for in an answer. Does that mean how do you feel if school will actually open on August 17th? Or does it mean, do you feel it is safe to start school on August 17th?”
Point taken. But based on the outpouring of Facebook feedback following our initial report, we believe most parents responding were expressing a state of uncertainty about their children’s safety should they return to school on Aug. 17.
Ducey said at a coronavirus briefing today that he will meet with Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman and provide clarification on the timing next week.
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