Almost 90 percent of parent respondents would favor return to school with proper conditions
VANCOUVER — Vancouver Public Schools (VPS) released findings today from a weeks long survey that concluded on June 19 on the feelings of staff, students and parents on returning to in-person instruction in the Fall.
On June 11, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) issued guidelines and recommendations for schools moving forward with reopening in the fall for in-person instruction. Stipulations included social distancing, potential masks and rigorous disinfecting and cleaning.
Earlier this week, Gov. Jay Inslee released a mandate requiring masks in public settings. Now, schools are working to distill all these recommendations, mandates and guidelines into strategy for 2020-2021.
VPS, much like Battle Ground and Evergreen, sought the input of their community. The results display a significant level of support for reopening schools entirely.
The district saw over 7,600 parent responses, 3,300 student responses, over 1,700 school-based employee responses, and nearly 500 district-level staff member responses. A total of well over 13,000 respondents.
The first portion of the survey explained that if appropriate precautions were used, would the respondent, “always, often or sometimes” choose to return to traditional school. Those who said yes to these options were 95 percent of school-based staff, 93 percent of district-level staff, 92 percent of students, and 89 percent of parents.
The other options for responding to the previous question were they would “seldom or almost never” feel safe. Some 5 percent of school-based employees, 7 percent of district-level staff, 8 percent of students and 11 percent of parents said this.
Student equity in bus transportation is a large question for many districts including VPS. In their survey, VPS found that 10 percent of students and 13 percent of parents could not transport themselves or their child to school and had to rely on the bus system. Nearly three quarters of highschoolers and parents said they could transport themselves or their student often or always.
“The most pressing needs expressed by parents and students were in-person, teacher-led instruction and socialization,” the VPS summary read. “An important but lesser need was access to elective programs.”
According to VPS, many respondents said they believe extracurricular activities, such as sports, should only continue when all students are able to attend in-person classes, but some said otherwise.
Among the highest rated safety measures for protecting students from COVID-19 were daily cleaning and disinfecting, 14-day mandatory quarantine for students testing positive for COVID-19, and having a low number of cases in Clark County.
The district reported staff being more supportive of personal protective equipment being required, like masks, but parents and students less so. Social distancing and high frequency of student handwashing were also more favorable with staff than students and parents.
Parking lots, classrooms, outside, common areas, and bus stops were listed by respondents as some of the safest places for students, while buses, gyms, locker rooms, restrooms, and lunch rooms were seen as less safe.
The results of the survey will be used, VPS said, in strategizing for next year. The district’s board will make and release a final plan in mid-August for reopening on Sept. 1.