Survey: Blacks, Hispanics prefer keeping schools closed and getting instruction online

Charter school students in Florida
OPA LOCKA, FL - Public charter school students in South Florida visiting with then-Gov. Rick Scott. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

With some Florida school districts opening as early as next week, a new survey shows that Blacks and Hispanics, far more than whites, prefer that schools remain closed and all instruction be done online.

The survey by the nonprofit Consumer Reports comes as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and a legal battle ensues between the largest teacher union in Florida and several statewide figures — including Gov. Ron DeSantis — over whether it’s safe to open schools.

The survey of 2,031 US adults interviewed online and by phone, in English and Spanish, was conducted from July 9 to 20, as districts were pursuing plans for the new academic year during the COVID crisis.

Only 25 percent of whites surveyed said schools should close and instruction be done online. In contrast, 57 percent of Blacks, and 52 percent of Hispanics, preferred that schools remain closed and instruction be done online.

And overall, 73 percent of Blacks and 64 percent of Hispanics say they’re “very concerned” about the spread of COVID-19. Meanwhile, 47 percent of whites surveyed were very concerned.

The percent of Blacks and Hispanics considered very concerned has risen dramatically between a June survey and the July survey published Friday.

The apprehension among Blacks and Hispanics is likely to impact choices families will make about whether students should attend brick-and-mortar schools or work remotely.

Florida Department of Education data show that overall, 21.64 percent of students are Black in the state’s public schools, and 34.52 percent are Hispanic. White students make up 36.89 percent of the enrollment.

But several districts have much higher percentages of Black students. For example, the Black student population in some areas are double the state average, in districts including Duval, Gadsen, Leon and Madison counties, the data show.

In addition, Miami-Dade, the largest school district in the state, is largely Hispanic —  more than 70 percent of its students, across all grades, are Hispanic.