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Reopen Safely

New Survey: Just 39% of American Parents Think Kids Will Get a Good Education This Year

Every two weeks, Salesforce Research is surveying the general population to learn how consumers and the workforce are navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re posting our insights from the survey and tips on what businesses can do in response.

Additional data in this post comes from a segment of the Salesforce Global Stakeholder Series, based on a global survey of over 20,000 respondents.

On the path toward economic recovery, Americans rank schools second on a list of the most important physical reopenings, behind only essential businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies. Yet with new COVID-19 cases near their highest levels to-date, parents are grappling with at least a semester of partial- or fully-remote learning.

Salesforce conducted two separate surveys that included parents in the United States to understand the concerns that underpin this back-to-school season like no other, and the role of business in overcoming them. Here’s an overview of what we found.

Parents are worried about the nation’s students

Despite the uncharted waters they’re preparing to navigate, the nation’s parents are generally optimistic about their own children’s educational prospects during the pandemic. In fact, 65% of parents say their children will have access to quality education during the upcoming school year, with no significant differences across demographic, socioeconomic, or geographic factors.

Parents’ outlooks for the nation’s students as a whole, however, are far less rosy. Just 39% of parents believe that most children in the U.S. will have access to quality education this year. 55% of parents go as far as to say that the country has deprioritized education.

These sentiments around the ability of schools to serve children during a historic pandemic are set against the backdrop of broader concerns around the state of American education. 67% of US Parents believe access to education is not improving — higher than the global figure of 60%.

Survey reveals parents' perceptions of nation's students
Survey reveals parents’ perceptions of nation’s students

Uncertainty and PPE will define in-person instruction

Only 34% of parents are comfortable with their children returning to school in-person at this time, and only 39% are confident that their district can keep students safe. Yet while just 20% of parents say their district has plans for full-time in-person instruction, 58% say in-person instruction will constitute at least part of their children’s semester.

Survey reveals parents' perceptions of in-school instruction
Survey reveals parents’ perceptions of in-school instruction

Personal protective equipment (PPE) like face coverings, as divisive as they have become, are viewed as essential for school reopenings. 82% of parents say teachers and staff should wear face coverings at school, and 76% say the same for children themselves. However, only 41% of parents say their school district plans to provide students with PPE, and an additional 37% aren’t sure.

Survey reveals perceptions of PPE at school
Survey reveals perceptions of PPE at school

As remote learning becomes the default strategy, technology gaps present a barrier for low-income students

63% of parents say at least part of their children’s fall semester will take place remotely, including 25% who will be exclusively remote. Given the untested nature of such an approach to education at a grand scale, parents have their reservations. Just 41% of parents are confident that children learning remotely will get the same quality of education as those learning in-person.

Survey reveals uncertainty in equity of remote learning
Survey reveals uncertainty in equity of remote learning

Given the hyperconnected nature of modern life, parents are generally confident that their children have access to the technology they need to learn remotely. Low income parents, however, are significantly less likely to believe this. In fact, low-income parents are 17% less likely than their high income counterparts to say their kids have the right technology for remote learning. Low income parents are also significantly less likely to anticipate help from their school districts in the form of tablets, computers, or even video instruction capabilities.

Survey reveals parents' perception of school's ability
Survey reveals parents’ perception of school’s ability

Parents recognize that a lack of access to the right technology can make or break a student’s chance at success. In fact, they rank the technology available at home as the most important factor when prioritizing which students may return to limited capacity in-person learning — ahead of other considerations including parents’ work demands, students’ age, and previous academic performance.

Businesses are asked to step up

Amid economic and leadership crises, parents are looking to businesses for help in keeping their children safe and educated. Four out of five parents agree that businesses have a responsibility to support education in their communities, while only 3% disagree,

Survey reveals parents want businesses to step up
Survey reveals parents want businesses to step up

This is just one example of a broader shift in how citizens view the role of businesses in society. 59% of Americans — including 66% of parents — trust businesses to create a better future for young generations.

Survey reveals parent trust in businesses to create a better future
Survey reveals parent trust in businesses to create a better future

Salesforce is proud to be part of the solution, including through a $20 million grant to five major public school districts in the U.S. We are also introducing a suite of Work.com solutions to help schools effectively engage students from anywhere and reopen safely when the time is right.

Salesforce conducted two double-blind surveys of 2,006 adults in the United States. One was fielded on August 1 and 2, 2020. Click here to explore data across demographics and geographies.

The other was fielded June 05 – June 23, 2020 to 20,000 adults worldwide, including 2,000 in the United States. Click here to view highlights.