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Schools across the nation are grappling with how to prepare to welcome back students this fall just months after coronavirus upended America's education system. The question remains: Will teachers and students show up?
According to an exclusive poll conducted by USA Today/Ipsos, one in five teachers revealed they are unlikely to go back to work in September, signifying what could be a potential slew of resignations.
After the virus began to spread within every corner of the country, students and teachers were forced to shift operations, with students signing in to Google classrooms and Zoom video conferences for virtual versions of everything from English discussions to gym classes.
Virtual school — sometimes known as “distance learning” or other terms — has existed for decades. But it’s far from ubiquitous in U.S. schools because of digital inequities among students, concerns about implications for teachers, and other factors. Now, teachers and students alike are getting a crash course. However, it hasn't been an easy road.
Eighty-three percent of teachers surveyed revealed they are having a harder time doing their job properly amid the unprecedented crisis, according to the findings. Approximately two-thirds said they have had even more work than normal.
"As our world has changed, almost everything we do has changed, including how we view and approach education,” Cliff Young, president of Ipsos, told USA Today.
By the end of March, more than 118,000 public and private schools in 45 states had closed across the United States, affecting 53 million students, according to a tally kept by Education Week.
Although local governments have already begun reopening businesses to improve the stifled economy, returning to the classroom may be easier said than done.
Six in 10 parents who have at least one child in grades K-12 revealed they would be "likely" to pursue at-home learning, or distance learning, instead of sending their kids back in the fall, with nearly one-third admitting they would "very likely" do that, according to a separate poll conducted by the outlet.
“Though Americans are optimistic about a return to in-person learning, there is angst among teachers, parents and America at large about how to keep our schools safe if the virus isn’t fully contained," Young explained.
Both polls were conducted simultaneously from May 18-21. In one, over 500 teachers working within the ages of kindergarten through high school were surveyed. Meanwhile, the other poll other surveyed over 400 parents of K-12 children.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.