Schools should focus on in-person learning, parents say in MassINC survey

BOSTON — Arlington mother Danielle Monroe said when the district offered full in-person learning, she signed her kids up right away.

“My daughter wants to go to school. She wants to see her friends, even if it’s masked and from a distance. She wants to wave to them. She needs the accountability of a teacher in the room,” said Monroe.

She’s among the 54 percent of parents surveyed by MassINC who said schools should focus on bringing more children back for in-person learning. Forty percent said the focus should be on making remote better.

Vernee Wilkinson is a Boston mom and a member of parent group, School Facts Boston.

“It really feels like we’re very much in this safety-first mode. First, let’s see what’s going on around health and safety measures and learning loss very quickly is a concern as part of that conversation,” said Wilkinson.

The MassINC poll also found about a quarter of parents said their kids experienced learning loss this year, up from 13 percent pre-pandemic.

“I feel more confident, with the teachers starting to get vaccines, that’s less of a concern of mine than the very negative impact that she’s had on her education,” said Monroe.

Seventy-one percent of parents support vaccine requirements for teachers, and about half say they will vaccinate kids as soon as possible. The researchers at MassINC also thought about solutions to these parent concerns, including more robust simmer programming, making sure the state fully funds the Student Opportunity Act and utilizing all the dollars in the federal government’s COVID-relief package.

Ben Forman for MassINC said, “It’s about saying what you’re gonna do, how much it’s gonna cost to do it, where the money is gonna come from, and what it’s gonna produce on behalf of students.”

Parents we spoke to agree, as long as they don’t get more of the same.

“If summer learning is gonna be an extension of the remote learning that students have already had, that is definitely not the solution,” said Wilkinson.

Read the full report here.

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