MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) —  A majority of Minnesota parents say they feel comfortable sending their students back to school this fall, according to a survey from the Minnesota Department of Education.

The informal survey, conducted by the MDE between June 15 and July 6, includes responses from more than 130,000 parents about distance learning and fall school plans.

Over half of the parents surveyed had a negative experience with spring distance learning — with 52.6% of participants responding that it was either a ‘bad or very bad’ experience. However, the survey found that 44.7% reported at-home learning to be either ‘good or very good.’

In terms of sending one’s children back to school in the fall, 64.3% of parents said they were comfortable, 24.3% responded that they were unsure and 11.4% said they would not be comfortable.

Of those that said they were okay with students returning, 94.4% said they would send their kids back full-time.

This week, President Donald Trump has been very vocal about pushing for schools and universities to reopen in the fall — slamming guidelines for reopening schools issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as “very tough & expensive.”

Minnesota is expected to make a decision about whether students will return to the classroom in September by next week.

Kristen Saxhaug is a mom and teacher. She’s conflicted over going back to the classroom because her oldest child is starting Kindergarten this fall at Eagle Heights Spanish Immersion, and she’s worried about her child falling behind not being in the classroom.

“She definitely would not have a true immersion experience, if she wasn’t fully in the classroom,” Saxhaug said.

However, as a teacher at a large high school, she’s more hesitant about returning to work.

“Everybody in our building is probably over 4,000 people. I feel pretty uncomfortable thinking about going into that setting every day,” Saxhaug said.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump said he would cut off federal funding to schools who do not fully reopen in the fall. That’s one of three scenarios Education Minnesota is preparing for. Schools may also continuing distance learning or create a hybrid model with staggered start times and distanced classroom seating.

“I know that whatever decision is going to be made for Minnesota, we will have people unhappy,” said Denise Specht, the President of Education Minnesota.

As a union leader, who protects their members, she is worried about staff returning to work too soon.

“The deal that we should be opening quickly without thinking about science or the CDC protocols are just seems very reckless,” Specht said.

WCCO spoke to a Minnetonka family who wants their 2-year-old child to get back to daycare full-time, but they expect safety measures in place.

“You can’t just go full into how it was before, but at the same time I think it’s important that they continue on because to me education is the base of society,” Spasimir Bodurski said.

Marielle Mohs

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