Survey: 49% oppose prioritizing student groups for reopening

60% of Americans said students should move to the next grade, even if they suffered learning loss
By: | March 2, 2021
(AdobeStock/Rido)(AdobeStock/Rido)

Nearly half of Americans surveyed said no students—even those who struggled with online learning—should be prioritized for returning to in-person instruction.

About 1 in 5 people said students who lack internet access should return first but 49% opposed moving certain groups of children ahead of others, according to the survey by NORC research institute at the University of Chicago.

The survey also found that 16% of Americans would prioritize students with disabilities while 7% favor bringing children who receive free and reduced-price lunch back first.

Many educators and other experts have urged schools to let the youngest children and children with disabilities return to in-person first, said Jennifer Hamilton, vice president at NORC.


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“From this poll, it is clear most people want all children to return to in-person schooling as soon as they can do so safely, but people seem to have missed that the pandemic has not treated all students equally, and the consequences of not being in school for those students is particularly dire,” Hamilton said.

Older Americans were more likely to oppose bringing some children back before others. Respondents over the age of 60 were 66% more likely than Americans between the ages of 18-29 to say a group of students should be given priority.

Also, nearly 60% of Americans said students should move to the next grade, even if they suffered learning losses during COVID.