As cities and states grapple over when, how, and what to reopen, a new survey released today by the National Parents Union found that two thirds of parents across the country want schools to remain closed until it is certain that there is no health risk, even if it means students falling further behind.

Just 22% of parents say schools should reopen as soon as possible, according to the poll. 

When schools do reopen, strong majorities of parents, more than eight-in-10, support several measures including sending out notices to all parents if any student or staff member becomes ill, allowing students or teachers who are particularly vulnerable because of health issues to continue to learn or teach from home, and providing counseling and mental health support for students and staff.

Support for staggering schedules and requiring face masks for students and staff is somewhat lower, 75% and 70% respectively.

Most parents also believe that schools should use this time as an opportunity to make changes to education. Sixty-one percent of parents say that schools should be focused on rethinking how to educate students, coming up with new ways to teach children moving forward as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Only 32% of parents want schools to revert to the way things were before the pandemic began.

Parents are also more concerned about education and their families’ wellbeing than they are about making ends meet. 81% of parents are worried about their kids missing important social interactions at school or with friends, and the same percentage of parents are worried about making sure their child stays on track in school. Nearly the same say they are worried about themselves or a family member contracting coronavirus (80%). And more than three fourths say they are worried about how the situation is affecting their child’s mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Meanwhile, economic concerns don’t rank quite as high, although still a significant issue, as 69% of parents say they are worried about making ends meet.

Overall, parents, whose child’s school is closed, are satisfied with the job their school is doing in providing resources and support, with 72% saying the schools are doing an excellent or good job. 

Despite broadly positive feelings among parents about their child’s school and their own ability to help their child continue learning, 45% of parents feel their child is learning less during this time than they normally would, while 20% say they’re learning more and 31% say they’re learning the same.

Still, parents could use some relief. When asked to choose what would be most helpful to them as a parent right now, respondents answered with the following in the top three: help keeping children engaged in good activities (46%), more information about how to support children’s’ learning (31%), and high speed internet access (29%).