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As Delta Variant Spreads, Most Parents Would Support School Closures, New Qualtrics Study Finds

Last updated:  August 11, 2021

Parents are more worried about the health and safety of their kids returning to school this fall compared to last year, and 65% would be supportive of school closures if COVID cases continue to rise

PROVO, UT and SEATTLE, Aug. 12, 2021 — Parents are sending their kids back to school for the second time during a global pandemic and the majority (56%) say they are more worried this year than last about the health and safety of their kids, according to a new study by Qualtrics (Nasdaq: XM), the leading experience management (XM) provider that serves nearly 9,000 education institutions worldwide. Parents are so worried, they’re even willing to deal with school closures, despite beliefs that hybrid and remote learning has caused their kids to fall behind in their education. (Study results can be found here)

With the COVID-19 Delta variant on the rise, 65% of parents would be supportive of a school closure if cases continue to surge. Getting kids back to in-person school — which most parents (65%) agree is the best learning environment for kids — is still a priority though. A third of parents say they are most looking forward to their children returning to in-person school over any other activity, including going to the movies, eating in restaurants, traveling or celebrating holidays.

Most of the country’s schools are preparing to reopen for fully in-person instruction if they haven’t done so already. But as parental behavior is a key element in keeping kids safe from COVID, school administrators and government officials will have to navigate parental concerns in addition to Delta variant numbers as they decide on policies for the new school year.

“Nothing has been easy during the pandemic. Considering all the difficulties with remote learning access and outcomes, the fact that so many parents would support continued closures shows just how seriously they are taking the Delta variant surge,” said Dr. Karla Fisher, chief industry advisor for education, Qualtrics. “It’s a frightening fact that there’s a tradeoff between the best possible education for kids and their health. But school leaders are having to make those kinds of tough decisions now. Understanding the parent and student experience is essential for leaders who want to make the best policy choices for communities they serve.”

More key takeaways from the study include:

  • Majority of parents give their school district an above average grade: 67% of parents grade their school’s response to the global pandemic above average (A or B on the grading scale).
  • Experience makes people more comfortable with the remote model: 56% of parents whose kids did fully in-person schooling said they would be supportive of a school closure if Delta variant cases continue to spike supportive, compared to 79% of those whose children attended school were fully remotely last year.
  • Students are falling behind and remote education is to blame: 53% of parents say their kids fell behind on schoolwork during the pandemic and the most common reason they gave was hybrid or remote learning.
  • The political divide drives opinions on school closures: Democrats (83%) are much more likely than Republicans (49%) to be supportive of a school closure.


This study was fielded between July 28-30, 2021. Respondents were considered eligible if they live in the United States, are at least 18 years of age, and are parents of children aged 5-18. The total number of respondents was 1,025. Respondents who did not pass quality standards were removed.

Additional information: