Austin ISD surveys: Parents prefer remote learning but plan to send kids to school

Education

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Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include results of a “July survey,” presented at the AISD board meeting Thursday. On the same day, the district sent KXAN results of a different survey. KXAN is awaiting answers from AISD explaining the differences in the surveys’ results.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two recent Austin Independent School District surveys asked parents questions in different ways about their choice for schooling in the fall, producing different results.

In a survey the district provided to KXAN Thursday, parents were asked if they “plan to send their children physically back to school with or without conditions.” Whereas a “July survey” presented to the AISD Board of Trustees on Thursday evening asks, “How would you prefer for your child or children to attend school in the fall?”

After reviewing the presentation, the board voted to delay the first day of school three weeks to Sept. 8, 2020.

The first survey “taken between June 24 and July 13,” showed most families — about 70% — said they planned to send their children physically back to school when the option became available. This survey was not included in the board presentation Thursday.

The “July survey” showed nearly 70% of families said they “prefer” for their child to attend school through remote distance learning. The board survey does not specify which dates the survey was in the field.

Of the 28,869 responses received, 32% said they would prefer on-campus learning, 66% said they would prefer remote distance learning and 2% said they would not return.

That survey showed, of the 8,408 staff members polled, 87% would return to campus. A majority wanted conditions including social distancing, health screening and readily-available personal protective equipment.

In the June 2020 Family Pulse Survey summary, parents were asked which method of learning they “plan” to choose for their children.

A total of 9,124, or 34.75%, said they would send their children back with conditions, while 34.44%, or 9,041, said they would send them back without any conditions. Families indicated they wanted safety guidelines and recommendations from the CDC, local government and the Texas Education Agency.

Austin ISD has outlined a number of safety guidelines for its campuses, including temperature checks, having students wear masks, rearranging spaces to maintain social distancing and providing hand washing and hand sanitizer options.

Just over 30%, or 8,090, said they did not plan to send their child to school. Many said the reason was a fear of children or other family members getting COVID-19, a worry that schools were opening too early or a concern their child would not be able to consistently follow safety guidelines like wearing masks or staying six feet apart.

The survey was sent to families and took place between June 24 and July 13. Families responded to the survey for each child they had enrolled in the district last year, excluding graduated seniors. The district received responses on behalf of 26,255 students. The district has a total of 75,592 students.

The survey also asked parents how they planned to get their children to school. About 62% said they would be picked up or dropped off, 20% said their child would ride the bus, 12% said the child would walk or ride their bike and 6% would drive themselves to school.

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