The start of a new school year naturally results in elevated stress levels: routines change, schedules fill up, and children, their parents, teachers, and caregivers adapt to a new hustle and bustle. This year, parents are feeling the strain of additional anxiety related to the Delta variant, the instability of their child(ren)’s learning environment, and potential vaccine mandates.

As of September CivicScience surveying, 7 in 10 parents say their school-age children are attending school in-person right now, but only 44% think this will still be the case in the next 30 days. Many parents anticipate a shift to hybrid schooling before the holidays.

Mask mandates are the most common form of mitigating the spread of the virus, but parents want increased sanitary measures this school year. For hybrid model parents, requiring students to be vaccinated is the second most highly desired COVID safety measure they would like to see implemented. This will almost certainly put schools in a difficult position. Even though most parents plan to get their children vaccinated or have already done so, there’s still a large portion (nearly half) who don’t plan to do so at all.

Why Stress Is Up for Parents

COVID-19 precautions aside, parents with children under 18 are more stressed now than they have been since the beginning of the pandemic.

Some of the highest levels of stress have been observed among parents whose child’s learning environment is totally online. Part of this anxiety is related to general concern about the Delta variant, but concern about the variant’s spread is actually highest among those whose children are learning in a hybrid model.

Having kids learning from home is a stressor for parents on many levels, but for some the alternative potentially being a vaccine puts many parents in a lose-lose situation. The data foreshadow a rise in online and hybrid learning environments by the end of the year, but it certainly won’t be an easy transition for anyone.