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Many B.C. parents approve of COVID-19 school restart plan, divided on learning methods: poll

Last Updated Nov 16, 2020 at 6:34 am PDT

Children walk with their parents to Sherwood Park Elementary in North Vancouver for the first day back-to-school Thursday, September 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C. parents generally in favor of keeping kids in schools and that majority has grown since September, new survey finds

B.C. parents are divided on schooling with 32 per cent now saying a combination of on-line and in-person is best: poll

Preference for in-person learning has increased from 27 per cent to 45 per cent since September

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Many parents in B.C. are giving the provincial government’s pandemic response a thumbs up, just more than two months after their kids returned to school.

According to a new Insights West poll, the vast majority of respondents say they are pleased with how the province has handled the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they’ve helped get students back in classes amid the health crisis.

“Currently, 58% of BC residents support the government’s current approach, which is 11 percentage points higher than support levels just before school started in September,” the survey reads.

This may come as a surprise, in light of numerous COVID-19 exposures at schools in B.C.

“In the big scheme of things, we haven’t seen a large number of outbreaks at schools. They’ve really been seen at social settings, like gyms and other places. We haven’t really seen until just a couple of days ago a school that had to shut down due to an outbreak,” Steve Mossop, president of Insights West explains.

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“Now that parents have had a couple of months to adjust to the new school routine, our latest poll shows significant levels of support for the province and individual school’s handling of the COVID-19 precautions and adaptations that needed to be made to in a new learning environment. That being said, there is still a segment of between 25 per cent and 33 per cent of parents who are not happy with the school system currently, especially with rising COVID-19 cases in the province and inconsistencies around communication of school outbreaks.”

Division remains around how students are taught

Parents, the pollster points out, are still divided when it comes to how their children are taught, highlighting a continued “lack consensus around the range of preferences for online, in-person and mixed options for instruction.”

In September, 41 per cent of parents polled said they felt a “mix of online and in-person learning would be preferred.” However, in the latest survey, the number of parents who said that dropped to 32 per cent, while a preference for in-person learning has increased from 27 per cent to 45 per cent.

The number of parents whose preference was remote learning has also dropped, from 27 per cent in September to 19 per cent now, the survey has found.

Masks still seeing support

Meanwhile, an Insights West poll from last week shows continuous support to make masks mandatory in schools.

“There is overwhelming support for mandatory mask wearing in middle schools (83 per cent), high schools (84 per cent), and these levels have increased from the numbers polled back in September,” the survey says.

Currently, there is no plan to make mandate masks in B.C. schools.