8 things parents think about masks, vaccines and a normal school year

Nearly three-quarters of K-12 parents expect the school year to be more like it was before the pandemic
By: | August 3, 2021
Some 60% of adults and 47% of K-12 parents support vaccine requirements for high school students, a new Gallup poll has found.Some 60% of adults and 47% of K-12 parents support vaccine requirements for high school students, a new Gallup poll has found.

Adults, in general, are more supportive of school mask mandates for unvaccinated children and teachers than are the parents of K-12 students, a new poll has found.

The same dynamic holds true for requiring vaccinations in public schools, according to the Gallup poll released Tuesday.

“Large majorities of K-12 parents whose children have been vaccinated support requiring masking for unvaccinated students and teachers and vaccinations for eligible students,” authors of the poll said. “Meanwhile, parents of students who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine but haven’t done so are largely opposed to each mandate.”

Nearly three-quarters of K-12 expect the coming school year to be more normal, in that students will attend in-person as much as they did before the pandemic. Just 7% percent are not expecting a normal year.

The divide here is more geographic than political: Midwesterners and Easterners are more likely than Westerners and Southerners to expect normal schedules but there is little variance between parents who live in Republican- or Democratic-led states, the poll found.

“Many school districts have not finalized their plans, and those that have may be adjusting them in light of revelations about the contagiousness of the delta variant and the newly issued guidance from epidemiologists and public health officials,” the authors said.

Here’s a closer look at the numbers:

1. Mask mandates

  • 67% of adults and 60% of parents support mask mandates for unvaccinated teachers and staff members.
  • 64% of adults and 57% of parents favor mask mandates for unvaccinated students.

2. Vaccine requirements

  • 60% of adults and 47% of parents support vaccine requirements for high school students
  • 56% of adults and 43% of parents support vaccine requirements for middle school students

3. Normal school year

  • 76% of parents expect a normal school year, 7% expect disruptions and 17% are unsure.
  • 87% of parents in the Midwest and 80% in the East expect a normal school year, while 73% in the West and 71% in the South expect the same.

Parents of vaccinated students aged 12 to 18 have drastically different views than other parents. For example:

  • 84% of parents of the vaccinated 12- to 18-year-olds support mask mandates and 79% of these parents favor requiring COVID vaccines in high school.
  • 35% of parents of unvaccinated 12- to 18-year-olds support mask mandates and 20% support high school vaccine requirements.

“Those in the U.S. who are pushing for COVID-19 vaccine mandates for eligible children in schools point to the fact that such requirements are already largely in place for other diseases,” Gallup said. “But without full FDA approval, such mandates are less likely to happen.”