A new study is giving us a better idea of what was behind a family's decision to either send their kid back to school or continue with remote learning.
Researchers surveyed families in Hartford in August 2020. The majority, 57%, said at that time they would not send their kids back into the classroom.
Robert Cotto, Jr. director of the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy Partnership, one of the authors of the study, sat down with NBC Connecticut's Dan Corcoran to break down the reasoning behind that decision.
Dan: "Why did some parents choose remote learning over in-person learning?"
Cotto: "So we surveyed about 155 parents responded. And the big issue for parents deciding on remote was the issue of safety. What they were saying when we surveyed them was that they didn't feel going back into the classroom in person at that time, last August, was a safe place for their child, again, at that time during kind of COVID picking up. And so they chose not to go. And within that safety was a couple of different things. It was their health, it was the building and whether or not they felt like ventilation, Windows and those sorts of things were available. So those are sort of the big issues, was safety. Was my kid going to be safe in school at that time?"
Dan: "And throughout your research was there anything that really surprised you about what you saw coming back in?"
Cotto: "Yeah, so a couple of things I thought were surprising. Number one was, there was a kind of a tilt towards people of color, Black, African American, Latino parents. That said, they kind of were the majority of parents that said, we don't think we're going to be coming back, we don't feel safe. And then secondly, there were a number of parents that not only did they feel that being remote school was safer, but they were doing it to help other parents that might need to be in person and have kind of a safer environment. So in other words, they said, if I kept my child out, I can keep them on remote. And then there may be other parents that might need to be in-person person school for a variety of reasons for like work, or childcare and those sorts of things."
Dan: "Now, as you said, this survey was done when families actually had a choice. Now all schools are in-person in Connecticut, with very few exceptions. So what did you learn from this study that could help the state maybe make better decisions about remote versus in-person learning in the future?"
Cotto: "I think in the future, we have to obviously consider people's health number one, and think about also people needing child care. So there's a variety of things. And then specifically in terms of buildings, we need to think about, how do we make spaces that are much safer for people? So do we have the correct ventilation windows that can open? Do we give space to children? Do we have equipment like masks and so on and so forth? And then obviously, you know, moving forward? Does every child have the vaccination, and that's something that I think will be coming up soon, hopefully. But, you know, those are some of the things that we need to think about now and into the future.