COVID-19: Over 68% of parents won’t allow their children return to school, shows Chilean survey

Andrew Mendez/The Santiago Times Staff

SANTIAGO – More than 68 percent of parents say they will not allow their children to attend classes this upcoming academic year due to coronavirus fears, according to a survey released by the Chilean Association of Municipalities (AChM) earlier this week.

The South American country has so far recorded more than 267,000 cases of coronavirus cases, while at least 5,347 people have died from COVID-19 related complications.

The AChM study further showed only 8% of parents would feel comfortable sending their children back to classes, whereas 23.9% were undecided.

Since the closure of schools in March students have been taking classes in an online format, despite 12% of the country’s population not having internet access, according to surveys by the Undersecretary of Telecommunications.

“It is important to emphasize that although online classes are highly valued, there is evidence that [12pc] of the students do not have access to the Internet, so they are not receiving the contents of the Ministry, reinforcing the idea that nothing replaces face-to-face classes,” Fernando Paredes, the president of AChM, said in a press release.

Additionally, Paredes reinforced in a video that education is a top priority for the Association.

AChM has partnered with the Escuela de Gobierno Local to pilot the “Online and Back to School Modality in Chilean Education” public consultation. The initiative seeks to inform parents about online learnings and the potential return to face-to-face class instruction.

“It seems that until now, no school training program has focused entirely on virtual learning,” the press release of the initiative read.

“There has been evidence of a lack of preparation on the part of some establishments to be able to deliver all the content in an optimal way… Even though various initiatives from the central government such as the “I learn online” programme and the physical delivery of materials and computers, this has not been enough to transform it into a student-friendly scenario. The current situation has presented itself as a great challenge for teachers and students.”

Since transferring online according to the AChM, 62% of parents say an online learning model did not help their child learn.