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Survey: Majority of Burlington parents prefer modified school week

Published: Jul. 15, 2020 at 12:17 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Burlington School District is considering its reopening options after seeking feedback from parents.

The board held a meeting Tuesday night to go over recent surveys in which parents voted on what type of classroom setting they prefer for their kids this fall.

Officials say the majority of families said they do want their kids to return to school in person this fall, but they prefer a hybrid schedule that would reduce the number of students in school each day by half.

Parents of Burlington students weighed in on what type of learning environment they want for their kids this fall. “I don’t support my kids going back into the building at all,” said parent Neil Delaney.

“There are risks associated with not going back for the kids and the adults involved and there are risks associated with going back,” said parent Bruce Baker.

More than 1,200 families participated in the Burlington school district’s Reopening Schools Family survey. It found the majority of parents want their children to return to the classroom.

“I do think that in-person education is so important for the kids that we’re really that the school district is able to have them go back into the schools, at least part-time,” said Abbey Duke, a parent.

When asked exactly what type of in-person schedule parents prefer, 77% of them said an alternating day plan. The 5-day Schedule is less popular. About 60% of parents said they’d consider sending their kids to school for five days a week, even if all safety protocols are followed.

“I think particularly for the young kids, it’s going to be really hard to wear a mask if you’re in third grade, sitting still, staying distant, following all of those rules. It’s going to be difficult for kids and the teachers,” Baker said.

“I’m never going to put my kids at risk, so unless my husband and feel super confident that it is safe for our children to go, we will no do that,” said Nicola Boutin.

Some parents say they won’t be comfortable with their kids in school until there’s a vaccine. “My personal preference is they just not go back into school until we have a treatment and more preferably a vaccine or both,” Delaney said.

The school district is hosting two virtual town halls this week. The first one is on Wednesday and it’s for families. The second one is on Thursday for staff. The district’s goal is to have a recommended plan by July 24 and communicate that plan to families and staff by August 6.

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