A new University of Michigan survey of parents of school-age kids shows as many as one third in Michigan may keep their kids home this fall. So the majority of parents responding to the U of M survey don’t plan on notable changes for their kids. If fully one-third of Michigan parents do end up keeping their kids from schools as indicated by the survey, that could mean about one half million Michigan K-12 students won’t be attending. Of course, a lot of things can change between now and the anticipated reopening of Michigan schools and some may change their minds. The results are a stark indicator of how parents feel about the COVID -19 virus outbreak, and their confidence in schools to keep their kids safe, and capability to provide quality education with all the new virus rules and controls. Some of the things parents are objecting to the most include the potential of young students, like kindergartners being required to wear face masks, to playground structures being closed off, and even random virus testing requirements.

The lead researcher involved in the study says, “On the one hand, sending children to school could increase the risk of COVID-19 among children and family members. On the other hand, children who don’t return to in-person school may experience disruptions in their education. Some families simply don’t have a choice because they need to go to work.” Parents’ plans on sending their children to school were similar between each state but varied by demographic factors. Respondents who were Black, Hispanic, or Asian were less likely to report that they will send all of their children to school compared with respondents who were white/non-Hispanic. Parents from low-income households were the least likely to report that they will send all of their children to school, with 40% reporting that they are unsure of their plans or are not planning on sending at least one of their children.

Many families indicate a surge in COVID-19 cases would cause them to reconsider plans for sending their kids to school. Others would likely reconsider based on the safety strategies implemented in schools or the type of educational experience their children might have.

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