PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A new poll shows nearly seven out of 10 Rhode Island parents are concerned their child has fallen behind academically during the pandemic.

The Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership at Bryant University conducted a phone survey with 400 parents with kids in K-12 public schools between Jan. 9 and Jan. 12, a time when omicron cases were spiking in the state.

Gary Sasse, director of the institute, said in addition to almost 70% of parents being worried about their kids falling behind, two-thirds of respondents said they think it’ll be even worse if the state resumes virtual learning in school.

“So the first thing that tells you is that virtual learning was not a success in the state,” Sasse said. “That is a red flag to me that we probably need to look a lot closer at what we’re doing to catch kids up.” Poll: How do you feel about your kids’ schooling during the pandemic?

He said the message to school leaders is clear: avoid returning to virtual learning if possible.

Teachers received a big vote of confidence in the poll, with more than three-quarters of parents saying they’re doing an excellent job overall and 85% saying they’re satisfied with the quality of their child’s education.

Parents were divided on whether they feel their voice is being heard by school committees and state lawmakers, with 42% saying they believe their voice is being heard and 44% saying it’s not.

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But Sasse said another finding surprised him most.

More than three-quarters of parents were satisfied with the steps their child’s school is taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But 64% were still concerned their child would get exposed to the virus.

And while 78% of parents supported students wearing masks at school, only 39% supported requiring all students over the age of 5 to get vaccinated to attend school.

“I felt there’s vaccine anxiety, which reflects the general feeling in the population,” Sasse said. “Parents favored masking.”

Tolly Taylor ( is a Target 12 investigative reporter for 12 News. Connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook Poll: Tell us how you feel about your kids’ schooling

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