The survey of more than 1,400 state residents was conducted June 24-25 as Gov. Roy Cooper and state leaders prepare for a decision on reopening of K-12 schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The latest survey by the Elon University Poll finds North Carolinians split over the best approach to reopening K-12 public schools this fall as North Carolina continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following a statewide order in March, the North Carolina’s K-12 public schools shifted to full-time remote learning for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year in response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the state. The results of the Elon Poll survey of more than 1,400 N.C. residents was conducted as Gov. Roy Cooper and state officials prepare for a decision on three possible pathways for the start of the 2020-21 school year.
The Elon Poll found that 38 percent of North Carolinians prefer a hybrid approach, with K-12 students learning from home part of the time and learning in-person part of the time to allow for greater physical distancing inside school classrooms. Thirty-four percent of state residents are in favor of a full-time return to in-person learning while 29 percent prefer that students continue to learn remotely.
“No demographic subgroup in our survey was in consensus about what K-12 schools should do in fall 2020,” said Jason Husser, director of the Elon Poll and associate professor of political science and policy studies. “That all three broad approaches for reopening K-12 schools have similar levels of support is a testament to the uncertainty, complexity and difficulty of the decision.”
Responses varied little based upon whether the respondent has a child or grandchild in school, but other factors appear to have produced variations in how residents believe the state should proceed.
The survey found a split along political party lines, with Republicans more likely to be in favor of a full-time return to the classroom. Forty-six percent of Republicans are in favor of that approach, compared to 23 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of residents who don’t belong to either party. Forty percent of both Democrats and those belonging to neither party prefer the hybrid approach compared to 33 percent of Republicans. Continuing with full-time remote learning was favored by 36 percent of Democrats, 29 percent of those belonging to neither party and 21 percent of Republicans.
Additionally, men were generally more in favor of a full-time return to the classroom while the top choice for women was a part-time return to the classroom. White respondents were generally more in favor of a full-time return to the classroom than those who are Black or of another race.
“No matter how you slice up the data, North Carolinians are divided about what to do with K-12 students this fall,” said Kaye Usry, assistant director of the Elon Poll and assistant professor of political science and policy studies.
The question was part of a larger survey of 1,410 N.C. conducted June 24-25, 2020, by using an online opt-in sample marketplace. The survey has a credibility interval of +/- 2.74 percent. The credibility interval is an accuracy measure for opt-in online surveys. A fuller explanation of the credibility interval and the survey methodology are available in the full report.
The survey was conducted by the Elon Poll in partnership with The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer and The Durham Herald Sun. The full results of the survey will be released on Thursday, July 2.