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)

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

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta identifies 1,516 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

Central zone has 1,849 active cases

A damaged unicorn statue is shown in a field outside of Delia, Alta. in this undated handout photo. It’s not often police can report that a unicorn has been found, but it was the truth Saturday when RCMP said a stolen, stainless-steel statue of the mythical beast had been located in a field not far from where he’d been taken. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Mounties get their unicorn; stolen statue of mythical beast found in Alberta field

Police are still looking for suspects, and have called in their forensics experts to help

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
Dr. Wayne John Edwards, 66, died Tuesday at Chinook Regional Hospital. (Cornerstone Funeral Home)
Lethbridge doctor becomes 7th Alberta health-care worker to die from COVID-19

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, who was 66, died Tuesday at the Chinook Regional Hospital in the southern Alberta city

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

Erin O’Toole said he supports a woman’s right to choose and will personally vote against the private member’s bill

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

A vial of some of the first 500,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

The male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

The funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip in Windsor, England, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Philip died April 9 at the age of 99. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip laid to rest Saturday as sombre queen sits alone

The entire royal procession and funeral took place out of public view within the grounds of Windsor Castle

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine in a freezer trailer, to be transported to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pfizer to increase vaccine deliveries in Canada as Moderna supply slashed

Moderna plans to ship 650,000 doses of its vaccine to Canada by the end of the month, instead of the expected 1.2 million

Most Read