MONDAY, Aug. 23, 2021 (HealthDay News) — As the school year starts across much of the United States amid a surge in coronavirus cases fueled by the Delta variant, a new survey shows most parents support vaccines for students and staff alike.
Sixty-two percent of nearly 1,700 parents with at least one child aged 7 to 18 said they would feel safer if schools had higher vaccination rates, according to the University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.
Three in five parents of middle school and high school students also said their child would feel safer if most students and teachers were vaccinated, and most parents said they want to know how many aren’t vaccinated.
Still, only one in five parents in the nationwide poll said vaccination information would affect their decision about sending their child to school.
“Many families would feel safer knowing their school has a high vaccination rate,” poll co-director Sarah Clark said in a university news release. “But some may feel that the potential negative impacts of not attending in-person school outweigh risks from unvaccinated individuals. Parents may also believe that they can minimize that risk by having their child get a COVID vaccine.”
Parents and students should ask about their school’s COVID-19 prevention measures so that they know what to expect and how to prepare, Clark suggested.
Universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors in all schools, kindergarten through high school, regardless of vaccination status, along with other social distancing strategies are recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other groups and experts. But whether a school district will follow those recommendations depends on what state you live in.
“Parents will want to learn about school policies related to masks and social distancing, and then talk with their child about how to navigate the school environment to feel as safe as possible,” Clark said.
The poll also found that along with safety, parents have a number of other concerns about the pandemic’s impacts on the new school year, including a possible return to virtual learning, as well as their children falling behind academically and having difficulty connecting with friends.
“COVID wreaked havoc on many families’ school experience last year, with parents and kids navigating unpredictable changes in the learning environment and new social, emotional and academic challenges,” Clark said. “Our report suggests that those experiences left a mark on students and families, influencing their views and concerns about the upcoming school year.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19 and schools.
SOURCE: University of Michigan, news release, Aug. 23, 2021