Nationwide survey finds parents still have worries about reopening schools virtually

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — A nationwide survey shows parents still have concerns about going back to school – even virtually.

“How you deal with multiple children being in the home? How do you deal with everybody being online at the same time and whether the video is going to work?” said Cardell Orrin, executive director for Stand for Children Memphis.

Those are some of the lingering questions Orrin still has about reopening schools virtually.

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His concerns echo similar responses from a new Kaiser Family Foundation study. The survey found that parents – particularly minority parents and those with lower incomes - are not only worried about access to limited to technology more than 50 percent are worried about losing income if they can’t go back to work if they’re kids are home.

In Shelby County, the YMCA is stepping up and offering some free childcare but Orrin said more community agencies will need to help out too.

“We know a lot of folks been out of work because of the pandemic and having safe places, childcare spots, learning sites even as we’re doing virtual instruction for students to go is going to be virtually important,” said Orrin.

The survey also shows 65 percent of parents are worried about their children falling behind academically as well as socially and emotionally.

As the district continues to respond to this pandemic, Orrin said the change should be equitable and long term.

“We’ve known we’ve had a digital divide for years and years how do we make sure we address it once and for all so when the pandemic is over we actually have moved forward and leapfrogged, not just said ok it’s a problem lets address it for now and then everything goes back to the status quo, we want to see changes made,” said Orrin.

This survey also shows that about 40 percent of parents are worried about the inability to access social services if schools remain closed for in-school learning.