Two-thirds of teachers prefer to teach remotely this fall

NPR/Ipsos poll shows widespread concern for in-person teaching, enforcing social distancing

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, August 6, 2020

A new NPR/Ipsos 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

1. 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%).

2. 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. 

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

The NPR article can be found here

About the Study

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. Partial findings from two Ipsos polls conducted May 18-21, 2020 and January 11-17, 2019, among roughly 500 teachers of grades K-12 18+, are included as well.

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. For this poll, posthoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, race/ethnicity, union membership, and grade taught.  

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 5.0 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=505, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-6.5 percentage points).

Additionally, both Ipsos polls conducted May 18-21, 2020, and January 11-17, 2019, have credibility intervals of plus or minus 5.0 percentage points for all respondents.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Chris Jackson
Senior Vice President, US
Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2025
[email protected]

Mallory Newall
Director, US
Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2014
[email protected]

Kate Silverstein
Media Relations Specialist, US
Public Affairs
+1 718 755-8829
[email protected]  

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

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The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs