More than 70 percent of Missouri educators support beginning the upcoming school year remotely, according to a recent survey from the Missouri National Education Association (NEA).
The survey, released Thursday, found 72 percent of educators said they supported starting the fall semester remotely, with less than 25 percent supporting fully in-person instruction. The same number of those polled also said their schools had spent the summer adequately preparing for the possibility of remote instruction in the fall and their districts had the resources to allow students to access learning materials from home.
Educators were also asked what teaching methods they would use for remote learning. Most teachers reported they would use digital means of instruction, with online packets and activities, real-time video discussions, and pre-recorded videos all selected by over 60 percent of those surveyed.
“Local districts experiencing increased cases of COVID-19 should use this time to prepare for virtual instruction, create engaging lessons and, ensure equity of access to remote learning materials,” Missouri NEA President Phil Murray said. “A rushed reopening where elected officials insist children are ‘gonna get over it’ puts students, educators, parents, and families at risk. As educators, children are at the center of every decision we make. Now is the time to focus on keeping them safe, nurturing their love of learning, and crafting robust plans for returning to in-person instruction when COVID-19 cases recede.”
The survey compiled answers from 24,270 teachers, higher education faculty members, and education support workers from across the state. It asked teachers to evaluate schools’ preparedness for in-seat and virtual learning, safety precautions, and educator wellbeing. Major areas of concern included a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), clear protocols for positive cases in schools, and the ability to practice proper social distancing.
Additionally, 78 percent of educators surveyed said they believe school districts should open when it’s safe to do so, rather than at a time specified by the state; 77 percent reported that they believed educators should have a say in approving plans for in-person instruction.
“No one wants our students back in school more than educators, but we must prioritize student and educator safety,” Murray said. “Wednesday, Missouri was tagged as a ‘red zone’ state by the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force. Our state is experiencing a startling rise in new cases among children and college-aged adults, accounting for 22 percent of cases just weeks before schools and colleges begin to open.”
Only 4.8 percent of those surveyed said they believed their districts would provide adequate PPE for staff and students, with 80 percent reporting that they expected to pay for cleaning supplies and PPE out of their own pockets. Less than 4 percent of educators said they believed that their districts had clear safety protocols.
Teachers also responded that they felt more anxious about reopening compared to the start of last the last school year, with over 80 percent reporting that they felt “very or extremely” stressed compared to the previous year. The survey also showed an expected increase in workload and worry over possible job loss for most educators.
Missouri NEA’s survey also asked educators questions about face masks, communication with students’ families, and reopening information.
Read the full results of the survey here.