6 in 10 US workers support going back to in-person learning in the fall, but a lot of people are worried schools aren't ready

  • As the coronavirus pandemic surges in many parts of the US, there's a debate over whether students should be attending school in-person this fall.
  • Strategic advisory firm Brunswick has been conducting a weekly survey of US workers to learn more about their opinions about the pandemic and its effects, as well as their companies' responses to the outbreak.
  • The latest report found nearly 60% of US workers surveyed who were enrolled or had a child in school want to resume in-person learning this fall.
  • Among those who are against this return, many are unsure of schools' ability to enforce proper social distancing and to adapt to new safety measures. 
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A new survey found that most US workers want schools to return to in-person learning, despite the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic and a recent spike in cases in some parts of the US. However, those who are skeptical of students physically going back to schools in the fall share some concerns about readiness.

Educators, parents, and government officials are currently debating whether or not students should return to schools in the fall. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recently commented on this issue, saying. "There is going to be exceptions to the rule, but the rule should be kids go back to school this fall," DeVos said. 

In an exclusive research partnership with Business Insider, business advisory firm Brunswick surveyed US workers who have enrolled either themselves or a child in school about their feelings regarding the return of in-person learning this upcoming season. The results show 58% of US workers support schools reopening.

Brunswick asked the 42% of those who do not want this return about why they're opposed to reopening. The following chart highlights the reasons some US workers are against returning to school in the upcoming fall:

The main concern held by those who didn't want a return to in-person learning was the uncertainty of social distancing in schools, with nearly 70% of those respondents listing that issue. About 63% are unsure schools can properly adapt their buildings to be safe, and 60% don't want to contribute to spread of the coronavirus. 

The results from Brunswick also show differences in the degree of support for reopening among political parties and racial and ethnic groups. 70% of Republican US workers who enrolled themselves or a child in school support in-person learning in the fall, while only 47% of Democrats reported they were in favor of this.

Among racial groups, white workers had the highest share of respondents in favor of schools reopening at 65%. About 44% of Black workers are in favor, giving a 21 percentage point difference between white and Black US workers. Only 39% of Asians and Hispanic workers support in-person learning in the fall.

The CDC has put out a list of recommendations to help schools prepare if they do reopen, including providing sufficient cleaning and safety supplies, like soap and disinfectant wipes. The CDC suggests routinely cleaning areas that multiple people come in contact with, such as sinks. 

To help with social distancing practices, the CDC recommends desks should be at least six feet apart, and that students should be spaced out on buses, with one student per row if possible. Schools could also use partitions in especially crowded or close-contact places, such as in between bathroom sinks and at reception. Placing tape on sidewalks can also help students and staff maintain a six-foot distance at all times.  

Business Insider's Taylor Borden recently reported some school districts, like New York City public schools, are planning a hybrid-model of learning, a mixture of remote and in-person classes, to help get students back to the classroom while still saying safe.

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