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Many Atlantic Canadian parents want their children to return to school in September: study

Parents of school-aged children have a clear desire for them to be back in the classroom in September, although for many a blended approach of in-person and remote learning is believed to be most appropriate, according to a survey conduced by Narrative Research.

Narrative Research describes itself as a “non-partisan… research company and one of Canada’s leading public opinion and market research companies.”

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The company released its survey findings on Friday after it interviewed more than 3,300 Atlantic Canadians on what’s the best approach schools need to take in delivering classes.

“Across the region, one-third of survey respondents (32%) have children in their household currently enrolled in school or at a post-secondary educational institution,” said the company in a press release.

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According to Narrative Research, findings show that parents have a clear desire for their children to physically return to the classroom in September, although opinions are mixed as to whether the best approach is to have only in-person classes with safety precautions in place, or if a blend of in-person and remote learning would be best.

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“Of note, in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, residents who do not have children enrolled in school are notably more likely to consider a mix of in-person and remote learning to be the best approach, while parents in both provinces are more likely to opt for in-person classes, as long as safety precautions are in place,” the company said.

The survey results showed that the best approach for school is highly dependent on the grade level.

Overall, the study stated that “parents are most likely to prefer in-person classes, with safety precautions in place for pre-schoolers (70%), followed by elementary (grades P-6) (56%).”

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“As the grade level increases so does the preference for a mix of in-person and remote learning. Those with a post-secondary student in the household are most likely to believe that post-secondary education should be a mix of in-person and remote learning (56%).”

Narrative Research said that these results are fairly consistent regardless of province, with the overall trend indicating the younger the child, the greater the preference for in-person classes.

“Parents’ strong preference for in-person classes for younger age groups is likely reflective of a desire to have teachers do the teaching, rather than requiring parents to assume home school responsibilities as they did in the spring,” said Margaret Brigley, CEO & Partner of Narrative Research.

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“The mixed preference for students in higher grade levels reflects older students’ increased abilities in independent online learning. These findings also reflect the low COVID-19 case numbers in our region, and suggest a sense of confidence that safety precautions put in place, along with low case numbers, will safeguard students.”

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According to the company, the survey was conducted from Aug. 5-9, 2020, with 3,373 Atlantic Canadians (N.B.: 1115, P.E.I.: 220, N.S.: 1547, N.L.: 491) 18 years of age or older.

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