Most Manitoba parents comfortable sending kids back to school, survey suggests
Online survey results suggest majority of parents worried that their children are missing out on learning
Most parents who responded to an online provincial survey say they are comfortable with the idea of sending their children back to school this fall.
The province's voluntary online survey, open to parents across Manitoba, was conducted from June 12 to 21, garnering 30,538 responses to multiple choice questions about everything from remote learning to new safety protocols in schools come September.
Children have been learning from home since mid-March, when classes were suspended due to the pandemic. The province announced on June 22 that teachers and staff will return to the classrooms on Sept. 2, with students heading back on Sept. 8.
Asked "How comfortable are you with the possibility of your children going back to in-class instruction in the fall?" 75 per cent of respondents to the online survey said they were "very comfortable" or "somewhat comfortable" with the idea.
One Winnipeg father said he's comfortable with letting his son return to school because of Manitoba's effective response to COVID-19 so far.
"Hopefully, if things keep going that way, and he can go back to school and we don't have to worry too much about health issues," said Jeremie Gosselin, whose six-year-old is about to start Grade 1.
Parents seemed frustrated with the current state of at-home schooling.
Of those surveyed, 57 per cent said they either strongly disagreed or somewhat disagreed with the statement that remote learning has worked well for their child, compared to only 40 per cent who either agreed or somewhat agreed.
Fourteen per cent of respondents said their children have underlying health conditions that may put them at a higher risk if they are exposed to COVID-19.
That figure rose to more than a quarter of respondents — 26 per cent — when asked about whether anyone in the household was at higher risk.
Parents who responded also said at-home learning affected their children's relationships with other students.
Seventy-four per cent of respondents strongly disagreed or somewhat disagreed with the statement, "My children have been able to build and maintain relationships with other students in a remote learning environment."
When asked about their biggest concern, the largest number of respondents — 36 per cent — said it was missing out on learning from teachers. Twenty per cent cited their child's mental health and 18 per cent said the biggest concern was their children not socializing with friends.
Overall, though, parents appeared comfortable with the possibility of new safety protocols.
Regular handwashing had the most support, with 77 per cent of respondents saying they were "very comfortable" with that measure, followed by enhanced cleaning procedures (64 per cent "very comfortable"), use of hand sanitizer (60 per cent), and physical-distancing protocols (37 per cent).
Only 17 per cent were "very comfortable" with the use of cloth masks, while 27 per cent of respondents said they were "very uncomfortable" with that measure.
"I think it's safe for kids to be home, [but] the other good way is for them to go to school to learn," said Chelsea Queskekapow, a mother of two. "It's another good way to get them out of our hair."
Because the online survey is not a representative sampling, no margin of error can be assigned to the survey.