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Polls: Parents Support School Mask Mandates But Oppose Student Vaccine Requirements

Student wear facemasks as they attend their first day in school after summer vacation at the St. Lawrence Catholic School north of Miami on Wednesday.
Student wear facemasks as they attend their first day in school after summer vacation at the St. Lawrence Catholic School north of Miami on Wednesday.

As millions of children head back to classrooms, parents are trying to track mask mandates and other COVID-19 school safety protocols. Most U.S. parents support mask mandates in schools, but are against vaccine requirements for eligible students, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey finds.

Opinions on masks and vaccines

Across the country, some state leaders are demanding schools make face coverings optional. But more than 6 in 10 parents of school-age kids would like to see their children's school institute a mask mandate for unvaccinated students and staff.

At the same time, 58% of parents are against schools requiring students ages 12-17 to get the vaccine, according to the KFF survey. Vaccination rates among teenagers remain low. Only about 1 in 3 children aged 12 to 15 are fully vaccinated, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children under 12 are not yet approved to get vaccines.

Read more about KFF's survey methodology here.

What parents say about safety protocols

With regards to COVID-19 testing in schools, a RAND Corporation survey finds that 51% of parents would take advantage of voluntary, free weekly testing, and 75% supported symptomatic testing.

As the delta variant surges, most parents are still sending their kids back to school buildings, the RAND survey finds. But parents also want more information about the safety protocols in place at schools.

According to the RAND survey, only 27% of parents said that they already knew the specific COVID-19 safety measures their child's school will use. Sixty percent of parents wanted to know more about which COVID-19 safety measures their child's school is enacting this fall.

Read more about the methodology of the RAND survey, conducted with the Ipsos Knowledge Panel.


This story originally appeared in the Morning Edition liveblog.

Sneha Dey is the NPR education intern.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.