For parents across the country, back-to-school has likely never felt so ominous, controversial, and frustrating.

But that’s where we are in 2020. A topic of much consternation, back-to-school plans –or lack thereof– is on the minds of all American parents of school-aged children.

According to new CivicScience data, as the school year approaches, the percentage of parents who are uncomfortable with their children being in school in person this fall has grown exponentially since the last study in Q2. More than half of parents say they are not at all comfortable with the idea.

With this discomfort comes other options if online-only learning is a reality.

Remote ‘pandemic pods’ or home schooling pods, wherein parents help each other lead classes remotely to a group of kids, look like an option many are interested in. Fourteen percent of parents polled say they’re very likely to form such pods, and another 19% say it’s somewhat of a likelihood.

Those interested in forming these pods are more likely to be in a non-remote job than those who are not interested in them. There’s a larger portion of remote workers in the not interested group, which was somewhat surprising. Although it does make sense that parents who work outside of the home / not remote over-index in interest.

While not every school district in the U.S. is currently slated to have an online-only approach to school this fall, it very well could turn out that the majority of students in the country end up learning online at some point this school year. This leads to concerns of kids falling behind due to not being in the classroom, among others. Nearly half of parents polled are very concerned about their children falling behind with a virtual learning environment.

Another consideration is access. While a large majority of parents are concerned about their kids going back to the classroom, likely wanting them to stay home, not everyone has home access to the fast, reliable internet that virtual schooling requires. In fact, though the majority of households in the U.S. report having broadband internet, 17% do not. That is still a significant portion of the country.

Virtual learning tools

Parents are now, in some cases, the IT department of their children’s schooling. While in-classroom learning provides a lot of the technology required for students, not all school districts can do so for at-home learning.

CivicScience data show the most popular item parents plan to buy for virtual learning are laptops (by a long stretch), but headphones, tablets, and webcams are also hot items parents plan to buy.

CivicScience is tracking dozens more questions about parents’ back-to-school beliefs, plans, and intent, digging deep into demographics and more. Our clients get access to this brand new, reoccurring syndicated report on schooling in the U.S. Want in? Let’s talk.