Survey: Most Trumbull parents will send kids back to school
TRUMBULL — When schools reopen in the fall, a solid majority of Trumbull parents are planning to have their students back in the classroom, according to a parent survey the school system conducted last week.
“We had heard from some parents that they don’t think their child should go back to school under any circumstances,” Assistant Superintendent Jonathan Budd told the Board of Education at its July 14 meeting. “So we sent out a survey to get some basic information.”
According to Budd, 5,044 parents completed the survey, a 75 percent rate that was consistent across all grade levels. Budd acknowledged that some parents were unsure of the district’s plans, and others could change their minds based on changing state guidelines and school plans.
The survey consisted of a simple question of whether their children would be back in school when the buildings reopen. The results were clear: 86 percent of parents that responded said they intended their child to be in school. Again, the results were consistent across grade levels, Budd said.
“If the parent said ‘no,’ we asked why,” Budd continued.
The reasons parents would not send their children back provided interesting feedback. For example, some parents worried the schools would not be able to enforce social distancing or face mask requirements. Others said they would not send their child back if face masks were mandatory, making it impossible to satisfy both groups.
Other reasons for not sending a child back to school included a lack of trust in the safety and cleaning protocols, having children or family members with special health concerns and a preference for the distance learning that began in March.
Parents who planned to send their children back to school were asked additional questions about whether they intended to drive their children to school, and whether their children would be bringing their own lunch to school.
The responses showed just under half (47 percent) of parents planned to drive their child to school, and nearly 3/4 (73 percent) planned to send their child to school with their own lunch.
“These results gave us enough information for the reopening committee to begin planning,” Budd said.
The parent survey is a key component in staffing for the upcoming school year since the schools currently budgeted for 140 sections in grades K-5. Current enrollment projections are that there will be 139 sections when schools reopen, but that number could be as low as 137 or as high as 144 since several schools have grades that would require an additional section with the enrollment of a single additional student.
For example, Booth Hill School currently has 483 students enrolled, including 80 kindergarten students and 88 first grade students. The Board of Education guidelines call for maximum class sizes of 20 for kindergarten and 22 for first grade. If one more kindergarten student enrolls, that would mean that instead of four sections of 20 students each, the school would open a fifth section and each kindergarten class would have 16 or 17 students.
Jane Ryan and Middlebrook schools are in similar situations, with the possibility of adding one or two sections. Daniels Farm School is the opposite, possibly being able to reduce its number of sections by two if no new students enroll between now and the start of school.
Board member Michael Ward questioned whether the number of parents sending lunch with their children could change if the state ordered school cafeterias to remain closed. Budd said the plan currently is that students in K-5 would eat their lunch in the classrooms.
Ward also wondered about the logistical problems of maintaining social distancing during instructional time, with 22 or 24 students in the same room.
“We’re looking into it,” Budd said. A subcommittee had toured the schools and had conducted measurements of square footage in classrooms. At the high school level, this was even more of a challenge due to “atypical” classrooms like science labs.
“You have woodworking shops and culinary classroom kitchens,” he said. “We’re looking at what can be removed or replaced.”
More details, on all aspects of the report, would be forthcoming at the board’s August meeting when the reopening committee has a final plan to present, he said.