Most Upstate parents ok with masks in schools but less than half are ‘very happy’ with their school choice

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It’s back to school time and this year is unlike any we’ve ever experienced. The new school year doesn’t look anywhere near normal. Parents have had to make choices and decisions that are mind-boggling. We wanted to know how parents came to those decisions and how happy they are about them. We asked a few other things in order to take a small snapshot of how parents in the Upstate are feeling these days as well. 

We had 569 parents take our survey. More than three-quarters were from Greenville County and the others spread between Spartanburg, Anderson, and Pickens.

These are some of the points that stood out to us: 

  • Parents made the school decisions they did largely because of their child’s educational needs and the need for a stable schedule; health risks fell in the middle of those decisions
  • Half of parents surveyed chose to change how their child would be schooled this year
  • Parents are most concerned about their child’s educational, emotional, and social well-being this fall; this is closely followed by concerns about teacher health
  • Less than half of parents are very happy with their school choice this year and more than 40% would have changed their decision if their family situation were different
  • More than two-thirds of parents think that mask policies in schools are appropriate
  • More than half of parents think social distancing in schools is appropriate

School Choice

We asked where kids in elementary, middle, and high school are attending school this fall, as well other questions about whether or not this is a change for families and where kids were enrolled last year.

Where are your kids going to school?

Graph for "Where are your kids going to school?"

Is this a new choice for your family?

While nearly half of parents surveyed are making no change this year, the other half chose a new schooling option for their kid(s). 

Graph of "Was this school choice a new choice or the same as last year?"

If you chose a different option this year, where were your kids enrolled last year?

No surprise here really – most parents had their kids enrolled in public school last year. 

Graph of "If you changed your school choice this year, what school choice did your kids have last year?"

Feelings about School Choices This Year

No school choice this year was necessarily easy. Here’s how parents feel about their choices. 

Graph of school choice confidence.
Graph of school choice happiness

Big Decision Makers

There are some big things that parents took into account when making a school choice decision this year. Also, two-thirds of parents surveyed have an adult that can stay home with the kids. 

Graph of reasons for school choice
Graph of "does your family have an adult that is able to stay home with children?"

How Parents Feel About Masks & Social Distancing

The majority of parents we surveyed are okay with masks and social distancing at schools. 

Graph of parents feelings on masks and social distancing.

Other Concerns

Parents are worried about how their school choice decision will affect their child’s overall mental, social, and educational well-being. 

Graph of parents' current concerns

Some parents told us additional thoughts about this unprecedented school year:

I honestly think everything is going to be fine. Teachers will love their students. Students will learn and grow. We will all get through this together.

There’s no perfect solution but I think GCS is doing their best. I wish there were other resources outside of the school system to help those in dire need of child supervision to relieve the stress of balancing e-learning and jobs but, of course, I have no answers.

I wish more people were concerned about the educational and emotional impacts of not being [face to face] like normal. Also, thank you for holding the Q&As with the board member. He answered questions more thoroughly than anyone else did.

There are 2 things that I am extremely concerned about regarding the upcoming school year (so much so that it literally keeps me up at night): the health and safety of my entire family and the fact that my children did not learn well at all virtually in the Spring (and it was an extremely horrible struggle to get them to do their school work and try to work a full-time job at the same time even with my husband out of work and at home with them).

I feel like nothing is the right answer and there is no way to meet all needs.

This is a hard decision for all families. There are no easy/good choices, we can only do what we think is right for our kids and family. We need to support one another because all parents are struggling this year, not that parenting was easy to begin with but pandemic life just made it that much harder.

I am very worried about what the environment of school will be like for my children. As much as meet the teacher is for the student, it is also helpful for a parent to see the classroom and meet the the teacher. It provides a level of reassurance, which is something I feel I need now more than ever given the difficult choices we have had to make.

Very upset about kids having to wear masks

I feel like a weekly change in schedule with little notice to parents is disruptive and decisions should be made quickly for at least two weeks at a time. I hope for everyone’s sake that they proceed cautiously.

I am sure the districts are doing the best they can. This is an unprecedented and very difficult and frustrating situation.

For us we just needed a stable option for the kids and the virtual learning would hold us at home waiting on the next live teaching for too many hours a day. Also not willing to test a new option again (like e-learning)

To say that I’m fully confident in this choice wouldn’t be honest. I do have concerns, as I think all parents do, regardless of what choice they’ve made for their family.

We should have the choice to send our children 5 days per week.

About the Author
Kristina Hernandez is a mom of two girls, freelance writer and photographer. Originally from New Jersey, she is in love with the Upstate and could not imagine raising her kids anywhere else. She enjoys hiking to waterfalls, kayaking, camping, cooking, and exploring all that Greenville has to offer. And she really loves baby goats. Follow her on Instagram at @scadventurer.

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