Narrow majority of LBUSD parents plan to keep students home when elementary schools reopen

As negotiations and planning continue around when exactly Long Beach Unified elementary school campuses will reopen, the LBUSD has gotten new data about the preferences of the city’s parents.

A recently concluded survey by the district asked parents of elementary school students whether they wanted to send their kids to school for half-days of in-person instruction or whether they wanted to remain at home doing exclusively online learning through the rest of the school year.

A small majority of parents chose the “Online at Home” option, with 50.5% (15,590) of those surveyed picking that choice. The “In Person at School” option drew 44.1% of respondents (13,641). The district did not receive a selection from a little more than 5% of parents, and still needs answers from those 1,616.

The survey ran for two weeks and included an online form, but schools were instructed to log phone call answers for those parents struggling with the online form.

The numbers represent a major shift from the survey conducted in August that asked parents about their preferences for the school year. That survey included multiple in-person options including a full day, and 58% of parents selected some form of in-person instruction, a number that dropped 14% in the recent survey.

The survey results take on new importance now that coronavirus cases have subsided enough for elementary schools to reopen in Los Angeles County and Long Beach. Before campuses welcome back students, the district has to submit a safety and testing plan to the local and state health departments.

LBUSD officials have previously said they’re aiming for March 1 to begin reopening elementary schools, but a statement by Mayor Robert Garcia Tuesday that teachers should be vaccinated before that happens has thrown that timeline into doubt.

The survey data and reopening plans will be one of many discussion topics at tonight’s LBUSD Board of Education meeting at 5 p.m.

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