NATIONAL -- A new NPR poll finds that two-thirds of K-12 teachers prefer fall classes be primarily remote, and even more are concerned about returning to in-person teaching.

If schools were to reopen and implement social distancing guidelines, a strong majority of teachers say they would likely have difficulty enforcing the measures among their students, and half predict issues with funding for sufficient masks and cleaning supplies.

Detailed Findings

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By a nearly two-to-one margin, K-12 teachers prefer to teach fall classes primarily remotely rather than in-person. More than eight in ten are concerned about returning to the classroom this fall.

  • More K-12 teachers prefer to teach fall classes primarily remotely, utilizing distance learning (66%), rather than primarily in-person, in the classroom (34%).
  • Younger teachers more likely to prefer remote teaching, with 74% of those ages 18-34 saying this compared to 62% of those ages 35-54, and 58% of those ages 55 and older.
  • Eighty-two percent of K-12 teachers are concerned about returning to in-person teaching this fall. Around three-quarters are concerned about accessing sufficient personal protective equipment and cleaning materials (78%), risking their own health (77%), and connecting to students while wearing a mask (73%).

Though distance learning is preferred, there are widespread concerns about learning gaps and efficacy with virtual learning.

  • Teachers are concerned about many aspects of distance learning, including it causing students to fall behind (84%), creating gaps in opportunities for students (84%), and being an effective way for students to learn (81%).
  • More than eight in ten (83%) are also concerned about connecting with students they’ve never met this fall if they are remote teaching.

Ultimately, teachers feel a great deal of uncertainty right now. Eighty-three percent are concerned about their school changing their coronavirus plans after the year starts, and 72% are concerned about not knowing how or where they will be teaching this fall.

  • Just 11% say their school district’s plan for how to start the school year during the pandemic is finalized and clear. Eighty-four percent of teachers say the plans are still in development, with 40% saying they are clear so far and 44% saying they are unclear.
  • Forty percent of K-12 teachers feel they have a voice in how their school district responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, with just 8% strongly agreeing this is the case.
  • Currently, fewer than one in five teachers (16%) say they would not return to teaching if their school reopened in the fall, similar to findings from another Ipsos poll of teachers conducted in May.

If schools reopened this fall, most teachers say they are likely to struggle with enforcing the rules.

  • Eighty-four percent of teachers say they are likely to have difficulty enforcing social distancing among their students. Elementary (88%) and middle (87%) school teachers are more likely to say this than high school teachers (78%).
  • Just over half of teachers (55%) say it is likely that their school district would have enough funding to provide teachers with masks and cleaning supplies.

Even though most teachers feel prepared to teach online this fall if they had to, less than half say their school district has provided them with sufficient training.

  • Most teachers feel more prepared to teach online this fall if they had to (81%) and think their school district’s online or distance learning effort is headed in the right direction (70%).
  • Nevertheless, more than half agree that they cannot properly do their job since starting to teach online (55%), and just 39% think their school district trained them well for online learning.
  • Similar to their assessment of the previous school year, 37% say their school district has provided sufficient training for the upcoming school year.

These are the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between July 21-24, 2020 on behalf of NPR. For this survey, a sample of 505 teachers of grades K-12 age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 5.0 percentage points for all respondents.