Back to school anxiety: Parents feel more confident than teachers after pandemic

NEW YORK — Compared to last year, everyone’s feeling less stressed about the new school year this fall – but parents are a lot more confident than teachers. That’s according to a recent survey of 2,000 Americans, 1,000 of whom work as K-12 teachers and 1,000 who are parents to school-age children.

Overall, the poll shows that 44 percent of teachers and 55 percent of parents reported feeling less anxious about heading back to school this year than they did last year.

Fifty-seven percent of parents also reported that their kids seem less anxious, too. However, parents still want to be involved – 49 percent of parents say they’re going to talk more with their kids about what they want to feel more prepared for in the classroom this year.

Teachers are still anxious about back-to-school season

On the other hand, teachers were almost twice as likely to say they’re at the same anxiety level they were at last year compared to how parents see their kids (41% vs 26%).

Compared to a similar poll from last year, 54 percent of respondents felt more anxious for the back-to-school season in 2021 than they did before the 2020 pandemic. Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Office Depot, the surveys also asked teachers and parents to describe their expectations for when students return to school this year.

“Last year’s back-to-school season was filled with uncertainty as students, parents and teachers had to adapt to new learning environments,” says Kevin Moffitt, Office Depot’s executive vice president and chief retail officer, in a statement. “This year, with students, parents and teachers feeling more confident heading into the new school year, our clients are looking for products that show off their personalities and set themselves up for success both in and out of the classroom.”

Parents are most excited to encourage their child’s interest in learning (53%) – and to get more done while their kids are at school (48%). Teachers are looking forward to being back in the classroom and are most excited to customize their rooms with new supplies, furniture, and learning tools (47%).

back to school

Moving past COVID?

While last year’s survey reported that half of parents marked COVID-19 as a top concern, only 26 percent of this year’s respondents said the same. Yet, the pandemic did demonstrate the value of technology in the classroom, with 44 percent of parents saying technology is one of the most critical factors to a student’s success.

This year, nearly a third of parents (29%) say they are worried about their school district having the appropriate number of qualified staff members. The most commonly cited concern among teachers is still a worry about delayed academic progress among their students (24%), making it one of the top-ranked options for two years in a row.

Seventy percent of parents are worried about school supply costs, more so at public schools (74%) than private schools (69%) – and both parents (68%) and teachers alike (59%) expect to spend even more this year.

Sixty-eight percent of parents feel their school district has the appropriate resources, however, only 54 percent of teachers say the same. Additionally, it’s clear on how important the role of teachers will be this year.

Thirty-eight percent of parents believe that having a supportive teacher will be one of the most critical factors to their child’s success, including more moms and dads with children in public schools (33% vs 22%). However, only 27 percent of teachers agreed – perhaps because 65 percent say they’re experiencing burnout, according to the data.

“Now more than ever, we need to support teachers as much as we can – financially, mentally and physically. There are few things more influential in this world than a great teacher, which is why Office Depot is committed to helping set them up for success with tools for teachers, programs, special offers and more,” Moffitt notes.

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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