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Just 36% of parents want full-time in-person schools this fall

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As summer comes to a close, families across the country are agonizing over the start of the new school year.

The Trump administration has repeatedly called for the re-opening of K-12 schools even as U.S. hospitalizations and deaths due to coronavirus continue to rise and cases near 5 million

On Monday, President Donald Trump tweeted, "OPEN THE SCHOOLS!!!"

In late May and early June, Gallup surveyed parents of children in kindergarten through 12th grade and found that 56% wanted full-time in-person school this fall. But that share has decreased significantly. According to Gallup's latest estimates, just 36% of parents now want full-time in-person schools this semester.

Additionally, Gallup found the share of parents that prefer full-time remote instruction increased from 7% to 28% during this time. 

The remaining 36% of parents said they favor a hybrid system which includes some in-person teaching and some distance learning. While such hybrid models are a popular option among parents, the details of such models can vary from district to district. 

The change in attitudes mirrors parents' fear that their children will get coronavirus. The share of parents that are "very worried" about their children catching the virus increased from 12% to 27% over the past several weeks. 

Unsurprisingly, those not worried about their children catching coronavirus were significantly more likely to say that they favor students attending school in-person 

Parents' opinions were also impacted by geography. Approximately 27% of those in the West and North East favored in-person schooling while 40% of those in the South and 51% of those in the Midwest felt the same. 

Political affiliation also drastically impacted parents' attitudes. A significant 85% of parents who identify as Democrats said they worry about their child getting Covid-19, compared to 29% of Republicans.

According to EdWeek, 12 of the 15 largest school districts in the U.S., including Los Angeles and Chicago, are expected to be teaching fully online in the fall.

But at least five states have ordered that some in-person instruction be made available to students and many more districts are expected to make final decisions about how the next semester will proceed in the weeks ahead. 

And while opinions about the risks of in-person learning appear to be drawn along political lines, World Health Organization officials have warned against turning the decision to reopen schools "into yet another political football."

"My fear in this is that we create these political footballs that get kicked around the place," Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO's health emergencies program, said at a July news conference at the organization's Geneva headquarters. "If we suppress the virus in our society, in our communities, then our schools can open safely."

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