A new poll shows 41 per cent of respondents believe school children wear a masks, in a July 21, 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Poll suggests parents want students to don masks at school in fall

41 per cent want masks worn

OTTAWA — Almost two-third of parents in a new poll say they believe that children returning to school in the fall should wear masks at least part of the time.

The latest poll on the COVID-19 pandemic by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies found that 41 per cent of respondents believe school children should be required to wear a mask while they’re on the bus or in the school.

A further 21 per cent said yes to masks, but only when a student is outside of class during recess, lunch or if on the bus — suggesting they were OK with students taking off their masks once in class and not in common areas.

There was also a group of respondents, accounting for 28 per cent, who believed masks should be optional.

The current public health advice is that non-medical masks can contain infectious particles on their wearers’ breath, reducing the risk of contagion from people with COVID-19 who might not know they’re carrying the illness.

The Leger online poll of 1,524 Canadians over age 18 took place July 17 to 19. The poll cannot be given a margin of error because it is not a random sample.

Leger vice-president Christian Bourque said support for masks at school may increase as more jurisdictions adopt mandatory mask measures.

He said social norms are already changing, noting the similarity in numbers between poll respondents who said they support masks at schools and those who said they wear masks when they go to grocery stores.

“The more we consider this potential for making the mask mandatory, the more parents will probably find that the mask should be mandatory as well,” Bourque says.

“The social norm that we should be wearing the mask will only go up the closer we get to the actual start of the school year.”

The poll suggests many parents are concerned from a health perspective about sending their children to school or daycare, even while economic concerns abound about parents unable to work if they don’t have safe places for their children to be during the workday.

Sixty-two per cent of respondents also expressed concern about sending their children back to school.

Concerns were highest in Ontario, where schools have been closed for months, and lowest in Quebec, which had some of the earliest school and daycare reopenings in the country.

Even those who say they’re not worried are likely to have concerns in other ways, such that an asymptomatic child might pass the novel coronavirus on to a grandparent, said Bourque.

“The situation is a lot more complex than just having your son or daughter at school,” he said.

Many school boards are working on plans for reopening schools in many parts of the country that have been closed since March when public health lockdowns were ordered to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Some, such as Ontario, are considering hybrid weeks, in which groups of students are physically in school part of the time and work at home or connect by video conference for the rest.

The results show that 59 per cent supported a hybrid school week. Meanwhile, 31 per cent of respondents opposed such a plan.

About half of respondents in the poll said class sizes should be halved from their usual numbers when school reopens. A further 20 per cent believed classes should be smaller — one-third of their usual size.

Just over one-fifth of respondents, or 23 per cent, told Leger that class sizes should be at 100 per cent of what they were before the lockdowns.

“The majority of people expect that we will go back to school, but not in a normal class size, nor with a normal schedule,” Bourque says.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2020.

CoronavirusStudents

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

2020 Ponoka business awards
Ponoka chamber 2020 Business Award winners

The Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce 2020 Business Awards were held… Continue reading

Ryen Williams, 11, with a lost miniature horse at JJ Collett Oct. 23. Photo by Don Williams
UPDATE: Owner found

Father and son found miniature horse while out for a walk at JJ Collett

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

(Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ponoka FCSS’ Empty Bowls sells out

For the first time ever, Ponoka Family and Community Support Services’ (FCSS’s)… Continue reading

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Leader of the Opposition Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Thursday October 22, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
O’Toole tells Alberta UCP AGM Liberals were ‘late and confused’ on COVID response

He says Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has taken charge and not waited to make things happen

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Inquiry into oil and gas foes to deliver report next year: Kenney

A lawsuit filed by environmental law firm Ecojustice argues the inquiry is politically motivated

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

This photo provided by Air Force Reserve shows a sky view of Hurricane Epsilon taken by Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter team over the Atlantic Ocean taken Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020.   Epsilon’s maximum sustained winds have dropped slightly as it prepares to sideswipe Bermuda on a path over the Atlantic Ocean.  The National Hurricane Center says it should come close enough Thursday, Oct. 22, evening to merit a tropical storm warning for the island.  (Air Force Reserve via AP)
Hurricane Epsilon expected to remain offshore but will push waves at Atlantic Canada

Epsilon is not expected to have any real impact on land

A voter places her absentee ballot in the ballot box, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Robert F. Bukaty
American voters living in Canada increasingly being counted in presidential race

The largest number of Canadian-based American voters cast their ballots in New York and California

A composite image of three photographs shows BC NDP Leader John Horgan, left, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Sept. 25, 2020; BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau, centre, in Victoria on Sept. 24, 2020; and BC Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Sept. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck, Chad Hipolito
British Columbia votes in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan called the snap election one year before the fixed voting date

Nunavut's provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, on Tuesday June 30, 2020. The annual report from Nunavut's representative for children and youth says "complacency and a lack of accountability" in the territory's public service means basic information about young people needing services isn’t tracked. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Nunavut’s young people ‘should be expecting more’ from government services: advocate

‘The majority of information we requested is not tracked or was not provided by departments’

Most Read