Epoch Reader Survey: Children Falling Behind; Parents Want Schools Fully Open

February 16, 2021 Updated: February 17, 2021

Parents across the nation overwhelmingly want their children back in school, in person and full time, according to a new survey of more than 4,700 Epoch Times readers with school-aged children.

Currently, 35 percent of respondents’ children are at school five days a week. Almost 24 percent are completely virtual, while some 34 percent are doing a combination of at-school and virtual schooling. Seven percent are either homeschooled or have multiple children on different schedules.

The numbers roughly line up with information compiled by MCH Strategic Data, which aggregated school district numbers up to Feb. 1.

Almost 86 percent of respondents said they want schools to be open for full-time, in-person instruction. Many added that they’d prefer no masking of children.

Falling Behind

More than two-thirds of parents who said their child or children have been predominantly subject to virtual schooling at home, also said at least one child has fallen behind where they would have been if classrooms were open.

A respondent from California, who has four children ranging from elementary to high school, said her children are experiencing a lack of progress in all areas, “including social and emotional.”

“[My] fifth grader who LOVED school now hates it, and is obviously depressed. It is a sin what the politicians are doing to our children,” the respondent wrote. “Children need to be in school.”

Shelly Gorczyca from Ohio has one high school student who is currently doing two days per week in person at school.

“My child used to get As and Bs, now he gets Ds and Fs. He has ADD and struggles to engage in a virtual learning environment,” she wrote.

“People need to open their eyes and realize that our children are much more at risk from social isolation and depression than COVID. What these shutdowns have done to our children is horrible, and any politician that supports them should be removed from office.”

In Idaho, a respondent with three middle-school children said they’re currently doing a hybrid model of online and in-person instruction.

“My 8-year-olds are falling way behind. They’re struggling to do their work online while also having the internet drop in and out. Other children interrupt the teacher or do not have their mics on mute. It is pure chaos even though the teacher is doing the absolute best she can,” the respondent wrote.

Mary from Maryland is more scathing about the online learning her two elementary school-aged children were subjected to last year.

“They have lost ground in all areas. Watching YouTube would be a more productive use of their time. It would be wonderful if virtual schooling worked (or virtual anything for that matter), but it doesn’t. It’s mind-numbing and depressing. The curriculum is also horrible. Common core math is nonsensical and convoluted. It makes children hate and fear math,” Mary wrote.

She said she’s been fortunate to be able to place her kids in a private Catholic school that is doing full-time, in-person instruction.

“It’s a great fiscal burden, but it’s necessary. The children are delighted to be in school but are struggling. They will probably have to repeat a grade to make up not only for the lost time but for the huge learning gap between private and public schools,” she wrote.

In North Carolina, a respondent with two high school children said they’re still doing online-only learning and “definitely falling behind—everyone knows it.

“Teachers are lowering standards and giving grades not earned. Children are stressed and depressed,” the respondent wrote.

Private schools in the same area are fully open, the respondent said.

“I think we better get used to a lowering of the bar everywhere because there is no accountability.”

Challenges of Online Learning

Jeri Musselman from New Jersey has five school-aged children, three of whom are learning online only and two of whom are going to school full time.

Musselman said her high school-aged daughter (who is learning online) told her that she hasn’t learned one new thing since March 2020.

“Our son [who’s in junior high] is doing as little as possible. He doesn’t respect this way of learning. What amazes me, he’s still getting As, Bs, Cs? Those grades aren’t accurate,” Musselman stated. She said her daughter in junior high is “doing OK with school work, but not OK with her development.”

A parent from New York has a high schooler who is still doing online-only education from home.

“My daughter went from straight As to struggling just to pass,” the parent wrote.

One respondent from West Virginia with three children said they’ve transitioned to homeschooling and will remain that way, due to “lack of learning” online.

Kimberley, a respondent from Texas said her two elementary-aged daughters have been back full time in person since September 2020.

However, they had been learning virtually during the spring of 2020 and again in the first three weeks of the current school year.

“It was horrible! The online website was not effective, the Zoom meetings didn’t work half the time, it was a nightmare to navigate to the different platforms for their assignments,” Kimberly wrote.

“The girls were so frustrated, as were we, that we just finally gave up the last week in the fall, knowing that they were going back to in-person.”

Biden’s Goal for Reopening

Coe Van Donselaar, a second-grade teacher from Colorado who responded to the survey, said she believes children have lost about half a year of schooling. She said all schools should be open full time and President Joe Biden’s plan for at least 50 percent of schools to open at least one day a week by May is a disappointingly low goal.

“Schools need to open now without Biden’s help. My school opened and we didn’t need his help. Biden has no business telling schools what to do,” Van Donselaar said.

More than 81 percent of respondents agree that Biden’s goal for school reopenings is “disappointingly low,” while another 15 percent said it’s “inadequate.”

The remaining 4 percent said the goal was either “adequate or “too ambitious.”

“These virtual students are going to Walmart and the mall. No reason not to be in school full time,” one respondent wrote.

A high school teacher from Washington said her virtual students are in “massive downhill struggles.”

“My union and Gov. [Jay] Inslee are all blind to common sense. I have to keep my mouth shut to protect myself,” she wrote.

A Texas teacher said children have dropped noticeably behind where they should be due to the school closures.

“They have lost their edge academically. I’m not sure how long it will take to recover from the COVID shutdowns. The science shows that students aren’t at risk for the virus and do not transmit it,” the teacher wrote.

“We are ruining these students’ academic careers because of false fear.”

Follow Charlotte on Twitter: @charlottecuthbo
Follow Charlotte on Parler: @charlottecuthbo