Survey: Half of working parents say they won’t go back to work if there’s no in-person schooling this year

working mom
More than half of working parents say they will drop out of the workforce if schools don't open in-person this year, according to a new survey.
  • Investment bank Jefferies found 54% of 2,200 working parents surveyed say they will not return to work if schools don't open in person this year. 
  • In an analysis of 83 school districts, including the top 50 most populous districts, Jefferies found not one has said they would begin the year with fully in-person classes. Most offered a hybrid model that combined virtual learning with in-person learning. 
  • Since COVID-19 began spreading in the US and schools switched to virtual learning models in March, working parents have struggled to balance their jobs and helping educate their children.
  • Also, many households lacked the tech or the internet connection to attend classrooms online. Jefferies found that 56% of parents had to buy additional tech resources for remote schooling.
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A Jefferies survey finds that 54% of working parents plan to quit their jobs if their kids do not return to in-person learning.

The investment bank asked 2,200 parents across 12,500 schools in the country their thoughts on virtual learning amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Nearly every major city and many large school districts have announced they will start the new school year remote to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

But parents say they will have a hard time juggling jobs and extended virtual learning. Jefferies found that parents are divided on how best to start the school year: 34% of parents want learning to stay virtual, 29% are okay with schools starting in person, and 38% want a hybrid model that combines both models. Starting school remotely will also cost 56% of parents additional tech resources, per the survey.

Of the 83 school districts analyzed by Jefferies, including the country's 50 most populous school districts and 12,500 schools total, nearly half, 47%, are planning on starting the year entirely remote, while the remaining 53% are reopening in a "hybrid" fashion, as in half-remote and half in person. No school district Jefferies sampled offered fully in-person learning.

Since COVID-19 began spreading in the US in March, schools had abruptly shut down and switched to virtual learning models. Teachers, students, and parents all indicated the difficulties of the new learning model. Many households lacked the tech or internet connection to attend classrooms online, for instance, and parents shouldered the burden for educating their kids when virtual learning fell short.

The pandemic has also shattered the daycare industry: 40% of childcare providers expect to close permanently unless they get a public bailout, Business Insider's Marguerite Ward previously reported. Congress has yet to pass an additional stimulus package that would aid childcare centers.

Virtual learning may hurt parents who aren't planning on quitting altogether. Just 17% of parents feel prepared for extended homeschooling or virtual school, per a new Care.com survey of 2,000 parents. And people with children ages 5 to 17 have already said they are worried about their child falling behind academically, emotionally, and socially without in-person schooling, per the Kaiser Family Foundation

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