No overall parental support for school Covid safety measures

18/01/22

Parentkind research shows how starkly parents are split on issues like vaccinating children, face masks in school and Covid testing at home. For each measure, parents tend to strongly agree or strongly disagree, with little middle-ground, indicating that polarised views have become entrenched.

The poll of 2,056 parents representing 3,998 primary and secondary school children found that, on vaccinations:

  • Whereas nearly half (49%) of primary parents agree that 12-15 year olds should receive a second dose, compared to 42% who disagree, it’s only just over a third (35%) for secondary parents, versus 61% who disagree. Overall, more than half (52%) disagree compared to 41% who agree. 
  • Support for a first dose for clinically vulnerable 5-11 year olds shows almost a mirror image split. Primary parents tend to support it, with half (50%) agreeing compared to 37% disagreeing, but it is the other way around for secondary parents, where 36% agree and 51% disagree. Overall numbers have 42% in support and 45% against.

Pupils wearing face coverings and Covid testing at home reveal no convincing majority of parental support:

  • More than half (56%) disagree with using face masks in communal areas, where 41% agree. In classrooms, 60% disagree and only 38% agree that children should wear them. 
  • A small majority of primary parents agree with pupils testing at home twice a week (52% versus 45%). But it's more of an issue for secondary parents whose children are tested, where only 40% agree versus 58% who disagree. Overall, more disagree (52%) than agree (45%).

The issue that unites parents is on the negative impact of the pandemic on their child's education, with four in five (79%) saying they are concerned, which is equally high across primary and secondary phases.

Parentkind CEO John Jolly says, "Almost two years into this crisis, there is clearly a long way to go to persuade parents that their child’s learning will not take a long-term hit. We want to see much more government action on countering this, with policymakers involving parents in that conversation and directly addressing common concerns. Although measures such as the use of face coverings, vaccinations for children and testing are polarising, the overall sense is that most parents want their child’s educational experience to return to some form of normality as quickly as possible. Clearly, a challenge to that will come in reconciling the divide in parents' views of the best way to achieve this, particularly when it comes to the role of protective measures against the spread of Covid. However ministers make decisions on updating their guidance, they must keep in mind the impact on parents and on family life that their policies will have. Government must ensure that adequate consultation with parents occurs beforehand, with clear messaging provided once decisions are made, so that parents have clarity and can properly prepare their children."

Research methodology

Parentkind’s poll on school safety measures: 2,056 parents in England answered on behalf of 3,998 children. 1807 responses were for a child at primary school level, and 2191 responses were for a child at secondary school level. The poll opened on Thursday 6th January and closed on Tuesday 11th January 2022. It was promoted online and shared through social media.

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