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Survey results show most New Hampshire students, parents, teachers want schools to reopen

Strong Foundations Charter School students explore their new iPads on Jan. 3, 2012, as then-presidential candidate Jon Huntsman (right) visits their school in Pembroke, New Hampshire.

(The Center Square) – A statewide survey of more than 54,000 teachers, parents, and education staff has helped inform newly released guidance for reopening New Hampshire schools this fall.

The survey, which the state Department of Education released July 20, shows about 70 percent of parents favor sending their children back to school, although roughly 65 percent expressed concern about what safety measures would be in place, New Hampshire Public Radio reported.

Approximately 11,900 teachers and staff, 42,000 parents, 1,000 administrative officials, and 1,200 student wellness providers were surveyed.

“When we’re talking about reopening schools, we really wanted to hear from the broad community of folks that were affected by that reopening,” Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut told WMUR.

The School Transition Reopening and Redesign Taskforce (STRRT) took survey replies into account as part of planning guidelines for the fall.

“They looked at the data,” Edelblut said. “They figured out, what is this telling us about coming back to school? And what are the conclusions and the recommendations we might be able to make as a result from this input from a broad section of our state?”

More than 75 percent of parents of elementary and middle schoolers felt remote learning was difficult on their children.

Although the data was collected before Gov. Chris Sununu released school reopening guidelines on July 14, it provides a clear indication of what families and personnel consider important amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

While more than three-quarters of teachers – between 76 percent and 80 percent – said they would plan to return to the classroom when schools reopen, roughly the same number expressed health and safety concerns.

Roughly 53 percent of high school teachers said it would make them feel safer if students wore masks, but only 40 percent of elementary school teachers agreed.

The majority of parents – roughly 80 percent – described their children as “eager to return to school,” the survey found.

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