Survey: Few expect students will social distance in school

July 20, 2020 GMT

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire students of all ages are eager to return to school, but neither parents nor teachers are confident that young children or teens will comply with restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus, according to a survey released Monday.

The state’s school reopening task force heard from more than 56,000 respondents, including nearly 42,000 parents, as it developed the guidance published last week.

About 8 in 10 parents surveyed said their children were eager to return to the classroom, though parents were split on whether that should happen. Asked to rank their preferences, about half said their top choice would be onsite instruction. Depending on their children’s grade levels, between 12 and 15% of parents said they’d prefer remote learning, while 15-21% favored a mix. Among teachers, 38% listed onsite instruction as their top choice, with 27% picking remote learning and 26% favoring a hybrid model.


Compared to parents, teachers were more likely to say they would be concerned about their health and safety and that of their students. And teachers were far less likely to say students will be able to maintain new restrictions such as social distancing and avoiding congregating in groups.

Just 8% of teachers said they agreed that students would comply, while 20% of parents with children in kindergarten through 5th grade agreed, along with 23% of the parents of middle-schoolers and 28% of the parents of high school students.

The guidance document released last week includes very few mandates, prompting criticism from those who hoped the state would set minimum safety standards. For example, it requires masks to be worn by visitors to schools but leaves it up to each district to set policies for students and staff.

According to the survey, about half the teachers said they’d feel safer if masks were required for students and staff. Parents were less likely to say they’d feel safer with mandatory masks: Among parents of the youngest students, only 26% said they’d feel safer with mandatory masks for students, while 36% favored masks for staff. Those numbers rose to 36% and 44%, respectively, for parents of high school students.

In other coronavirus-related developments:



New Hampshire has launched a social media campaign urging residents to wear masks and take other safety measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.


The images designed to be shared on Facebook, Instagram and other platforms feature simple messages such as “Don’t go viral. Wear a mask.” One shows a photo of someone in a hospital gown with the words “This could be your #OOTD,” referring to the popular hashtag abbreviation for “Outfit of the Day.”

Unlike other states, New Hampshire residents are not required to wear masks in public, though Nashua has enacted a city ordinance and Portsmouth is considering one.



As of Monday, 6,249 people had tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire, and 398 had died. Health officials said 17 of the 46 new cases announced Monday were associated with an outbreak at a long-term care facility.

The number of deaths stood at 398. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause more severe illness and can lead to death.