Poll shows NC residents divided over plans to reopen schools

Poll shows NC residents divided over plans to reopen schools
(Source: Holly Bernstein)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina residents appear to be split regarding the reopening of public schools during he coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey by the Elon University Poll.

More than 1,400 residents were apparently surveyed between June 24 and June 25 as Gov. Roy Cooper and state leaders work to make a decision on reopening public K-12 schools.

Cooper said Wednesday that the decision on a school reopening will come in the next couple of weeks.

The survey, conducted by Elon Poll using an online opt-in sample marketplace, asked how K-12 schools in our state should reopen this fall. According to the survey, 34% of the questioned residents opted for a full-time return, while 38% thought a part-time return would be best. The remaining 29% chose full-time remote learning.

Some schools in the state are scheduled to start in July, and officials are asking those schools to conduct remote learning until the decision is made for in-person learning.

Schools in North Carolina shifted to remote learning in March in response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases.

“The Elon Poll found that 38 percent of North Carolinians prefer a hybrid approach, with K-12 students learning from home part of the time and learning in-person part of the time to allow for greater physical distancing inside school classrooms,” Elon reported.

The survey found a split along political party lines, Elon reports, with Republicans more likely to be in favor of a full-time return to the classroom, Elon posted.

According to the poll, men were more in favor of a full-time return compared to women, whose top choice was a part-time return.

“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.

In early June, the state released the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit that laid out essential health practices for schools to re-open safely, the governor said. Schools were asked to prepare three plans.

The first plan is in-person learning with key health and safety rules in place.

The second plan is the same as the first plan, but with fewer children in the classroom at one time.

The third plan is virtual learning for all students.

Cooper says district and school administrators are still working on ways to implement those plans, and state officials are asking them to keep using this time to work with teachers, staff, parents and public health officials to make sure that schools are opening in the safest possible way.

The governor says he wants schools to be open for in-person instruction by August, stressing the importance of the classroom for students.

“Let me be clear: We want our schools open for in-person instruction in August. The classroom is the best place for children to learn. Recent reports recommend it, and I know many parents and children agree,” Cooper said. “School is where children learn academics, but it’s also how they build the social skills, get reliable meals, stay physically fit and really become tomorrow’s leaders.”

Cooper says officials will soon make that announcement as they want to get our students back in the classroom.

The survey was conducted by the Elon Poll in partnership with The News & Observer, the Charlotte Observer and the Durham Herald Sun.

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