A recent Vancouver Public Schools survey shows strong majority support among students, parents, teachers and staff members for returning to “traditional” school in the fall with precautions to protect their health.
The Center for Educational Effectiveness conducted the online survey for the district over the past two weeks. Participation included 7,669 parents, 3,308 students, 1,759 school-based employees and 494 district-level staff members.
If appropriate precautions were in place, 95% of school-based staff, 93% of district-level staff, 92% of students and 89% of parents responded that they would return to school “always, often or sometimes.” Those indicating they would “seldom or almost never” feel safe were 5% of school-based employees, 7% of district-level staff, 8% of students and 11% of parents.
The most pressing needs expressed by parents and students were in-person, teacher-led instruction and socialization. An important but lesser need was access to elective programs. Most respondents indicated that athletics and activities should resume when full-time, in-person instruction begins for all students, although some support also exists for resuming athletics and activities with 50% of the student population in attendance.
A large majority of respondents rated daily cleaning and disinfecting practices, a 14-day mandatory quarantine for people testing COVID-19 positive and a low number of cases in the county as the top three safety measures. Staff were more supportive than parents and students of other state-mandated precautions including social distancing and facial coverings. Staff also were more concerned than parents and students about exposure to other people and frequency of handwashing.
Areas where respondents believe students will be safest at school include parking lots, classrooms, recess/outdoors, commons areas and bus stops. Areas viewed as less safe are buses, gyms/locker rooms, bathrooms and lunchrooms.
The survey also shows that 73% of high school students could “almost always or often” transport themselves to and from school, and 75% of parents could “almost always or often” transport their children. Ten percent of students and 13% of parents indicate that they must rely on bus transportation.
VPS will factor the survey results into the development of a plan for reopening schools for 2020-21. As required by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the district’s board of directors will adopt a plan by mid-August for a Sept. 1 reopening.