Low-Income Parents Most Worried About Kids Falling Behind in School

Nearly half of lower-income parents say they are very concerned about the effect of school closures on their children.

A custodial staffer sprays disinfectant in a high school classroom in Brownsville, Texas, on March 11, 2020. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald via AP, File)

ATLANTA (CN) — With schools in every state closed during the coronavirus pandemic, a new survey shows that parents in lower-income households are more concerned than their wealthier counterparts about their children’s education suffering.

The report published Wednesday by the Pew Research Center shows 41% of lower-income parents say they are very concerned about their children falling behind in school because of Covid-19-related school closures.

Only 21% of middle-income parents and 17% of those with higher incomes say they are very concerned.

Pew surveyed 1,079 parents or guardians with K-12 children whose schools are currently closed due to the pandemic between April 7 and 12.

According to news outlet Education Week, officials in 23 states and 3 U.S. territories have ordered or recommended schools stay closed through the end of the 2019-2020 academic year.

Education leaders and analysts have warned that the school closures may stunt students’ learning.

NWEA, a nonprofit that creates student assessments to test academic development, published a report this month using data on summer learning loss to forecast the impact of school closures during the pandemic.

The analysis suggests students will return for the 2020-2021 academic year “with roughly 70% of the learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year.”

NWEA projects students are likely to return with less than 50% of the expected gains in math. Some students could come back to school nearly a full year behind.

Although 83% of parents surveyed by Pew said they were at least somewhat satisfied with how their child’s school has handled online instruction during the closures, nearly two-thirds say they have some concerns about their children falling behind.

Parents’ responses on the level of instruction provided by schools were also divided on income lines.

Fifty-one percent of upper-income parents say their elementary, middle or high school children have received a lot of online instruction, while only 38% of lower-income parents said the same.

Just 13% of upper-income parents say their children’s school has provided little or no instruction, compared to 29% of lower-income parents.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a lead member of the White House coronavirus task force, said last week that schools may be able to reopen in the fall if efforts to “flatten the curve” are successful, but he’s not sure.

“I fully expect, though I’m humble enough to know that I can’t accurately predict, that by the time we get to the fall we will have this under control enough that it certainly will not be the way it is now, where people are shutting schools,” Fauci said during a White House briefing.

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