Elon poll shows North Carolinians divided over best plan to reopen schools

An Elon University Poll released Wednesday shows there’s no overwhelming favorite among three plans being considered to reopen North Carolina’s public schools.

The poll shows that 38% of 1.400 respondents favor a part-time return. Thirty-four percent want schools to reopen full-time and 29% prefer full-time remote learning.

Under the part-time return, the state’s K-12 students would attend school part time and learn from home part-time to allow for greater social distancing in classrooms.

“No demographic subgroup in our survey was in consensus about what K-12 schools should do in fall 2020,” said Jason Husser, director of the Elon Poll and associate professor of political science and policy studies. “That all three broad approaches for reopening K-12 schools have similar levels of support is a testament to the uncertainty, complexity and difficulty of the decision.”

The survey found that Republicans are more likely to favor a full-time return to classrooms. Nearly half — 46% — of Republicans who responded want schools to reopen full time.

Meanwhile, 23% of Democrats want schools to reopen full-time while 31% of respondents who don’t belong to either party favor that approach.

More men are in favor of a full-time return than women. A part-time return was the top choice for women.

White respondents generally favored a full-time return more so than Blacks and other races.

“No matter how you slice up the data, North Carolinians are divided about what to do with K-12 students this fall,” said Kaye Usry, assistant director of the Elon Poll and assistant professor of political science and policy studies.

On Tuesday, Gov. Roy Cooper tabled plans to announce the plan the state would use to reopen schools. Schools have been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also, on Tuesday, Republican leaders began to push Cooper to reopen schools on Aug. 17.

“We urge Gov. Cooper to follow the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and reopen schools on August 17 for in-classroom instruction.” GOP Sens. Deanna Ballard of Watauga County and Joyce Krawiec of Forsyth County said in a news release.

Ballard and Krawiec cited recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which urges states and school districts to consider reopening policies that start with a “goal of having students physically present in school.”

Check out the AAP’s guidance below:

  • School policies must be flexible and nimble in responding to new information, and administrators must be willing to refine approaches when specific policies are not working.
  • It is critically important to develop strategies that can be revised and adapted depending on the level of viral transmission in the school and throughout the community and done with close communication with state and/or local public health authorities and recognizing the differences between school districts, including urban, suburban, and rural districts.
  • Policies should be practical, feasible, and appropriate for child and adolescent’s developmental stage.
  • Special considerations and accommodations to account for the diversity of youth should be made, especially for our vulnerable populations, including those who are medically fragile, live in poverty, have developmental challenges, or have special health care needs or disabilities, with the goal of safe return to school.
  • No child or adolescents should be excluded from school unless required in order to adhere to local public health mandates or because of unique medical needs. Pediatricians, families, and schools should partner together to collaboratively identify and develop accommodations, when needed.
  • School policies should be guided by supporting the overall health and well-being of all children, adolescents, their families, and their communities. These policies should be consistently communicated in languages other than English, if needed, based on the languages spoken in the community, to avoid marginalization of parents/guardians who are of limited English proficiency or do not speak English at all.


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