Back to School – Parents’ Concerns in Italy and the US

Infodef

When thinking about the new school year, both worries and the desire to re-start safely come across minds. The new school year for children and young people started after months of distance lessons and a summer that, although affected by doubts and precautions, brought them back to social life.

If the majority of parents define themselves worried (41%), especially for the idea that their child can contract the coronavirus, children and young people are more serene: 29% of them are happy to go back to school (versus 10% of parents indicating they feel happy about it). Results are aligned to those found in similar studies conducted in the United States and Canada.

Beyond the risk of contagion, parents are also worried about the quality of teaching (30%) and, thinking about their role, about having to balance their work with the educational needs of the child (49%).

This is what emerges from the latest data collected by BVA Doxa in the week before the start of school on families and children in the post-Covid-19 period.

The beginning of the new school year comes with a new challenge: to try to combine the need to restart school and to make the year as peaceful as possible, while adapting to the safety and prevention measures, and the limits in terms of activities and organization due to the health emergency.

MIXED FEELINGS – A week after the start of school, albeit in a still fragmented way, Italian parents have expressed themselves on their prevailing moods and their children’s. A negative sentiment prevails among adults: they mostly recognize themselves as ‘worried’ about the idea that the child is going back to school (41%), confused (35%), and nervous (12%). 1 in 3 are ‘confident’ for the new school year, more fathers (32%) than mothers (26%), and 10% say they are happy that their child is going back to school.

Being happy about going back to schools is something that emerges when parents describe their children’s feelings: 29% of parents declare that their child is happy to go back to school, 21% defines them as ‘curious’ and only 20% of parents say that their child is worried, and 12% nervous. Discordant emotions between children and adults also emerge from the data collected by WIN partners of BVA Doxa overseas, in Canada: two thirds of parents express feelings of concern about going back to school, but they see in their children, for over 40%, the desire to back to school.

MAIN CONCERNS – According to the data, 47% of Italian parents fear that by going back to school, their child may contract the coronavirus: mothers (54%) are more concerned about this possibility than fathers (41%). However, what worries parents, and to a slightly greater extent, is also the possibility that returning to school might bring new infections within the family (53%). Besides the risk for children and young people, there is a shared fear that the virus might spread to other members of the family, perhaps among the oldest and therefore more at risk.

Families in the United States take a different view: the concern that their child may get sick is very high and rises to 74%. The possibility that the virus might spread within the family is slightly less frightening, with 69% worried parents. These stands reflect the different trends of the virus in the two countries and an underlying divergence in the social structure.

Besides the health and safety of children and young people, families also face other new challenges and problems. Fears arise when we consider the educational content on the one hand and the activities related to socializing and sharing on the other. In fact, among the main concerns of Italian parents, we find the fear that the quality of teaching is not adequate (30%) and that socialization with peers and friends is very limited (28%), two concerns that might reflect what was missing the most during the lockdown. In the United States, on the other hand, the risk of children falling behind with the study program (30%) is the first concern, an eventuality that worries 20% of parents in Italy. On the other hand, the limits of socialization with friends and companions remain in second place, even overseas (19%).

But the role of the parent also causes concerns related to having to balance one’s work responsibilities with the need to support children’s studies, both in Italy (49%) and in the United States (55%). This result emerges because of the changes in the working routines of adults in the last period and, at the same time, because what schools are offering right now. In Italy, the economic aspect also stands out: the risk of having to face additional costs related to the child’s education (21%) is another concerns shared by parents, while in the United States parents worry about not being able to help their children with homework (23%).

TRUST IN SCHOOLS – The prediction of the upcoming months is largely based on the trust placed in schools for one parent in two and on schools’ ability to make the most appropriate decisions for how to organize activities in compliance with anti-contagion rules. When asked about the trusts parents place in schools, 48% of Italian parents seem confident, more than in the United States, where only 36% say so.

Different opinions stand out when parents are asked whether they would vaccinate their child against coronavirus if there were this possibility by 2020: 38% respond in favor of vaccination for children / young people, but 36 % is still not sure about it. On the other hand, 27% of parents declare that they would not vaccinate their child by the end of the year.

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