When it comes to COVID prevention strategies, sending rapid tests home with students was a fan favorite among parents who responded to a recent MassINC poll. The survey, conducted in late March and early April, found 87% of Massachusetts parents said they would support such a policy.
But other strategies didn't garner the same broad support, and some revealed deep divides by race and income level.
The vast majority of Black respondents — about 80% — said they would support mask mandates at school going forward, but just half of white parents felt the same way. Overall, about 56% of Massachusetts parents said they would strongly or somewhat support a mask mandate in classrooms.
The poll also found 48% of parents remain at least somewhat concerned about their child getting infected at school. But that concern rose to nearly 70% among Black parents. It was also higher among lower income parents than upper income respondents, the survey found.
Similar divisions existed when it comes to how much risk parents felt comfortable accepting so their children could have more full experiences at school. The poll found just 37% of Latino parents and 42% of Black parents said we should accept more risk, compared 56% of white parents and 57% of Asian parents.
A little more than half of parents expressed at least some support for a vaccine mandate for students. More than 60% of respondents said some or all of their school-aged children are already vaccinated. Rates of vaccination were lower among younger and lower-income students and in some rural areas and gateway cities.
The survey of 1,469 people, sponsored by the Barr Foundation, found parents were mostly optimistic about how their kids were doing academically.
A majority of parents, about 80%, felt their kids would be prepared for the next grade level.
However, for parents who felt their child was falling behind, the poll showed significant interest in supplementary learning opportunities such as summer school.
"Among those parents whose lives were disrupted the most and whose children’s lives were disrupted the most, there really is a need and an appetite for more [academic] support for them," said Steve Koczela, the president of the MassINC polling group.
Mental health is also a prominent worry among parents, although less so than in a similar survey in 2021. Slightly fewer than half of respondents said they were at least somewhat concerned about their children's mental health, compared to about 60% in February 2021. Parents of English learners and students with Individualized Education Programs expressed the most worry about their kids' mental health.