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New National Survey Found Parents More Optimistic

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Noelle Motley, Marketing Communications Manager

Overall, parents reported an increase in their child’s positive emotions and  a decrease in negative ones since August. 

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (Jan. 11, 2022)—National PTA released findings of a national survey on how parents’ mindsets, expectations and concerns around COVID-19 safety guidance and protocols have evolved since their children’s return to school.  

The survey—which included 1,427 parents and guardians of children in grades K-12 in public schools—was conducted November 9-24, 2021, by Edge Research, in partnership with HCM Strategists and supported by the CDC Foundation. This latest survey is a follow-up to a previous survey conducted in August and reported on in September. This most recent survey took place before the emergence of the Omicron variant.  

The latest survey findings show: 

  • Almost half of parents (48%) state they have at some point in the 2021–2022 school year received notice that their child may have been exposed to COVID. 
  • Despite exposure notifications and parent concerns going into this school year, at the time of this survey, more parents felt comfortable having their children attend school in-person than at the beginning of the school year. 70% of parents felt at least somewhat comfortable in November, compared to 61% in August. 
  • Comfort with in-person learning increased across the board with Black, White and Hispanic parents, but the increase was particularly notable among Hispanic parents, with an increase from 53% in August to 68% in this survey.  
  • Parents’ preference for full-time in-person learning was 56%, an increase of 6 points from August.  
  • Almost two out of three parents surveyed (66%) said their child is attending school in their preferred way, either full-time in person, hybrid model, or full-time remote/virtual learning.   
  • Parental worries and perceived child anxiety about following safety measures had also decreased since the beginning of the school year.  
  • Caregivers’ concern about their child contracting COVID-19 at school remained the top worry, especially among parents of color. 61% of all parents stated they worry a lot or some about their child contracting COVID-19, compared to 75% of Hispanic parents and 66% of black parents.  

There were also key findings around mental health, as well as the social and emotional well-being of students: 

  • When asked to compare emotions at the time of this survey to the beginning of the 2021–2022 school year, pluralities of parents reported both themselves and their child feeling happier, more excited, calmer, and/or safer.  Pluralities also say that negative emotions of anxiety, frustration, confusion, sadness, and anger have decreased since the beginning of the school year.   
  • Many parents actively engaged in supporting their child’s mental health and look for continued support for their child’s social and emotional well-being at home and at school.  
  • The desire for social and emotional support was higher among parents whose schools have shut down at some point during the school year due to COVID-19. 

“Teachers and caregivers should feel encouraged by the shift in perspective reported in November’s survey,” said National PTA President Anna King. “Parents were feeling less anxious about their ability to keep their child safe while in school. Instead, they felt confident about the school’s ability to address their child’s health, safety, and social and emotional needs. The findings also showed that over half of the parents surveyed were able to identify a new resource that their school developed to address social and emotional concerns. These survey results are an encouraging sign that teachers and school staff will be able to address their families’ evolving COVID-19-related concerns and challenges appropriately.” 

“The pandemic continues to evolve with information changing rapidly. This latest survey from the National PTA was taken at a point in time when parents felt more optimistic about their child’s return to the classroom,” said Judy Monroe, MD, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “Today, it’s critical that we take action and get our children, who are eligible, vaccinated and have them practice safe measures at school. Our children are our greatest treasure, and we need to protect them.” 

 “K-12 administrators, teachers, and staff have been working countless hours to overcome prolonged and unprecedented challenges,” said Kathleen A. Ethier, PhD, director of CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, CDC’s lead center for monitoring and addressing school-based health. “These data are reassuring that their tireless efforts are making a difference in many ways, including the mental health of students and their parents.”  
Students benefit from in-person learning. Schools play a critical role in providing students with health education, helping students feel connected—an important protective factor for youth that can reduce the likelihood of a variety of health risk behaviors—and referring students to mental and physical health services. 

CDC recommends all teachers, staff and eligible students be vaccinated as soon as possible. Most children and all teens can get COVID-19 vaccines. CDC recommends everyone ages 5 years and older get a COVID-19 vaccine to help protect against COVID-19, and everyone ages 12 years and older can get a COVID-19 booster shot.  
CDC Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools is available here

About the Survey 

The online survey was conducted in English and Spanish by Edge Research Nov. 9-24, 2021, from a nationwide sample of 1,427 parents and guardians with children in grades K-12 in public school. The survey included oversamples of Latino/a parents representing a mix of acculturation levels and Black parents. Data were weighted to be representative of public-school parents in the U.S.  

This project was supported by the CDC Foundation by way of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and as part of a financial assistance award totaling $447,531 with over 99% funded by CDC/HHS and $2,400, less than 1%, funded by non-government source(s). The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS or the U.S. Government. 

About National PTA 

National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of family engagement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health, and welfare of children and youth. For more information, visit