Amid Push to Reopen Schools, Poll Shows Parents Divided on Remote Learning

Millions of American children have experienced remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic as schools across the U.S. closed and education was forced to go online.

Some critics of the closures have been pushing for in-person classes to resume, particularly Republicans who have taken aim at President Joe Biden's approach to reopening schools.

However, a new poll has found that a majority of parents whose children took part in remote and virtual learning believe it has been beneficial for their education and their mental health.

A YouGov survey for personal finance company Bankrate.com, published on Monday, shows that many parents thought remote learning had benefited their children.

Seventy-nine percent of parents said their pre-k through 12th grade children had experienced at least some remote or virtual learning in the past year.

Overall, 43 percent of the parents said the experience had been beneficial to their children's education, compared to 33 percent who said it had had a negative effect.

However, there was a divide between the parents of fully remote learners and those whose children received a mix of remote and in-person teaching. In the survey, 46 percent were parents of fully remote learners and 34 percent were parents of hybrid learners.

The parents of fully remote learners were much more enthusiastic, with 54 percent saying it had been positive for their children's education and just 23 percent saying it was negative.

Hybrid learners' parents rated the experience negatively, with just 30 percent saying it had a positive effect on their children's education and 46 percent saying it was negative.

Republicans including former President Donald Trump have been vocal advocates for reopening schools.

"Millions of American children are having their futures destroyed by Joe Biden's anti-science school closures," Trump told the Conservative Political Action Conference last month.

"There's no reason whatsoever why the vast majority of young Americans should not be back in school immediately. The only reason that most parents do not have that choice is because Joe Biden has sold out America's children to the teachers' unions."

That rhetoric has been repeated by congressional Republicans but parents are divided on remote learning, according to the survey, and many appear to think it is positive for their children.

The results were similar when it came to the impact on mental health. Forty-five percent of fully remote parents said the experience was positive for their children's mental health, compared to 24 percent who said it was negative. Among hybrid parents, the figures were 30 percent positive and 46 percent negative.

"I thought a lot more parents would be itching to get their kids back into the classroom full time," Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at Bankrate.com, said in a statement.

"It's hard to say whether parents really liked remote learning or if they merely felt it was the best option during a difficult situation. Even though vaccinations are increasing and COVID cases are decreasing, most kids are unlikely to be vaccinated this year, so a true return to normal for students and parents is still a ways off."

An Online Eighth Grade Class in Nevada
Kellie Goodall teaches an online eighth-grade English class from her empty classroom at Walter Johnson Junior High School in Las Vegas on August 24, 2020. Republicans have been pushing for schools to reopen. Ethan Miller/Getty Images