Schooling, vaccines explored in poll of parents

Coronavirus Local Impact

FILE – Jamie Onofrio Franceschini, 11, watches as RN Rosemary Lantigua prepares a syringe with her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children five to 12 years at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Nov. 3, 2021, in the Bronx borough of New York. The United States is steadily chipping away at vaccine hesitancy and driving down COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations to the point that schools, governments and corporations are lifting mask restrictions yet again. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

BOSTON (SHNS) – Massachusetts parents are optimistic about the academic progress their children will make during this third pandemic-influenced school year, according to a new poll that also explored parents’ plans to vaccinate their children against COVID-19.

The MassINC Polling Group survey of 1,479 parents with school-age children also tracked high levels of satisfaction with schools’ COVID-19 policies.

Conducted Oct. 18 through Nov. 2 by phone and online interviews in English and Spanish, the survey captures parent attitudes at a time when COVID-19 vaccines for kids between the ages of 5 and 11 were working their way through the final phases of federal authorization. Children in that age group became eligible for the shots on Nov. 2, when Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky endorsed an advisory group’s recommendation.

At the time, 65 percent of parents whose children were ineligible for vaccines said they planned to get their kids vaccinated when possible. Twenty-two percent said no, and 13 percent were unsure or refused to answer.

Those answers varied by region (80 percent of parents in Boston and its inner suburbs said they planned to get their children vaccinated when they became eligible, compared to 44 percent of those in the Southeast region), parents’ education level (80 percent of parents with an advanced degree planned to vaccinate their kids, compared to 53 percent with some college and 55 percent with a high school degree or less), and race (79 percent of Asian parents and 51 percent of Black parents planned to get their kids vaccinated).

One-third of parents who did not plan to vaccinate their children said they wanted more information or research.

POLL: Do you plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine for your child who is 5 – 11 years old?

Among parents with children who were vaccine-eligible at the time of the survey, 57 percent said all of their children were vaccinated, 18 percent said some were, and 24 percent said none of their children were vaccinated against COVID-19.

Just over half of respondents — 51 percent — said they expected their child to end this school year with their academics at grade level, while 9 percent said their child would be behind and 35 percent expected their child to end the year ahead of grade level. Among parents who said their child was currently behind grade level, a majority said they expected them to catch up by the end of the year.

Fifty-four percent of parents said they were “very satisfied” with the approach their child’s school is taking with COVID-19 safety, with another 31 percent “somewhat satisfied.” Parents of older children were somewhat more likely to be “very satisified,” according to the poll.

Asked about the federal recovery funds schools are expected to receive through the American Rescue Plan Act, 59 percent said they had not heard how their district plans to spend the money and 66 percent said they had not been asked for input on how to spend the money.

The survey, sponsored by the Barr Foundation and MassINC, said it also had “major project input and assistance from the Education Trust.” It’s the fifth in a series of polls that first began in May and June of 2020.

MassINC is holding an 11 a.m. event Wednesday to discuss the poll results, with research director Maeve Duggan, MassINC chief operating officer Juana Matias and Natasha Ushomirsky of the Education Trust.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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