Surveys show more Anderson families want in-person school, but many are still hesitant
Several Anderson County surveys show more families in the area want their children back in classrooms despite rising cases of coronavirus in South Carolina.
Since schools closed in March, district officials have grappled with when and how to reopen in the fall — a decision state officials have said will be left up to individual districts.
More than half of nearly 28,000 respondents to a Greenville County Schools survey were uncertain about sending children back to school in the fall.
On Wednesday, Anderson County School District 3 announced it would bring students back on a hybrid schedule from at least August to September. The district said it will re-evaluate its schedule based on the spread of the virus in September.
A survey done by Anderson County School District 5 in the last week of June had 7,382 responses. About 65% of respondents said it was "very important" for their children to return to school in the fall versus continuing eLearning, and about 35% indicated returning for in-person classes was "not very important" over eLearning.
About 25% of respondents said they were "very comfortable" sending children back to school, and 29% said they were comfortable sending children back if safeguards recommended by the Centers for Disease Control were in place.
About 25% said they were uncomfortable sending their children back even with CDC safeguards, 12% said they were unsure, and 9% said they do not plan on sending their children back to school in the fall.
Nearly half, about 45%, said they would prefer returning to full in-person instruction and offering eLearning only for children who do not return. About 26% said they preferred full eLearning for all students and 30% wanted a hybrid model.
Only about 14% of parents said they would need child care, and about 10% said they were unsure.
Anderson County School District 1 conducted a similar survey for more than 5,000 parents and staff.
The district reported that 88% of parents and 97% of staff who responded to the survey said it was either "important" or "very important" to have in-person learning in the fall.
About 87% of parents who responded and 97% of staff said they were comfortable with re-opening as long as the district had significant safeguards in place.
Only 12% of parents and 3% of staff who responded said they were uncomfortable with re-opening face-to-face instruction.
Only 36% of respondents said they preferred a hybrid model, and child care was the top issue.
The district has said parents who are uncomfortable with sending students back to school can enroll in its virtual academy, but they must notify the district by mid-July and commit to online learning for the entire 2020-21 school year.
Ariel Gilreath is a watchdog reporter focusing on education and family issues with The Greenville News and Independent Mail. Contact her at email@example.com and on Twitter @ArielGilreath.