More Parents Say Vaccine is ‘Absolutely Necessary’ for Safe Schools Than Any Other Measure | Education News

More than any other safety measure, parents say the coronavirus vaccine being available to the public is “absolutely necessary” in order for them to feel safe sending their children to school for in-person learning.

The finding is included in a sweeping new poll from the National Parents Union, which surveyed more than 1,000 parents over the course of a week in mid-December, and comes as the U.S. is in the beginning phases of administering millions of doses of vaccines, albeit much more slowly than anticipated.

The question about what is “absolutely necessary” in order to feel safe sending their children back to school gave parents a list of 11 options, and they could choose more than one. Close seconds included 46{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of parents who chose that schools require students and staff who may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 stay home for 14 days before returning to school, and 44{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of parents who chose that schools limit the number of students who are in common areas to maintain social distancing, and 41{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of parents who chose that no new cases of COVID-19 are reported in their local area.

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As it stands, health care workers have administered a little more than 2 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, far short of the 20 million people the Trump administration predicted would be immunized by the end of the year.

The wide scale vaccination of children is still months away. The Pfizer vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration under emergency use authorization can be administered to people 16 years old and up, while the Moderna vaccine can be administered to people over 18. Pfizer has enrolled children as young as 12 in its studies, and pediatricians and public health officials are urging drug companies to begin enrolling younger children in their ongoing trials in order to make the immunizations available to them.

When asked whether they plan to vaccinate their children when COVID-19 vaccines become available for them, 60{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of parents indicated that, yes, they do plan to vaccinate their children, including 58{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of white parents, 55{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of Black parents, 64{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of Latino parents and 70{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of Asian parents. Among the 25{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of parents who reported that, no, they will not vaccinate their children, 27{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} are white, 31{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} are Black, 22{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} are Latino and 16{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} are Asian.

In addition, the poll showed that parents with higher household incomes and with more education are more likely to vaccinate their children, and parents who identify as Democrats are significantly more likely to vaccinate their children versus those who identify as Republican, 75{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} compared to 56{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}.

The National Parents Union has been polling parents monthly about their children and their schooling options, providing one of the only consistent – if limited – insights into parents’ concerns and wishes for the academic year. It was the first time the group asked a question about vaccines, shedding new light on the ongoing debate over reopening schools for in-person learning.

Notably, among those surveyed, 59{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} said their child is attending school only remotely or online, and when asked how they’d prefer their child to attend school for the rest of the year if their child’s school were to allow them to choose, 49{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} said they’d choose only remote or online, compared to 24{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} who said only in person and 23{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} who said part-time in-person and part-time remotely.

President-elect Joe Biden has said he plans to reopen the country’s public schools for in-person learning in the first 100 days of his administration, but that goal is complicated by confusing and sometimes unreliable data about community infection rates, a lack of federal support to get schools what they need to safely reopen and the very real yet often underreported hesitance among communities of color, who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, for sending their children back to school.

To be sure, when asked if they could send a message to people who make decisions about education policy and public schools about what they should prioritize for the rest of the academic year, 54{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of parents chose providing access to consistent, high-quality remote or online learning compared to 38{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} who chose trying to get students back into the classroom and implementing health and safety measures.

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