Survey Says: Parents Concerned

For a second year, school is starting with a rapidly changing landscape thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. And because of that, parents and school staff alike are faced with making decisions based on circumstances that can change within a moment’s notice.

Because of this, when we began planning the September issue, one of the first things the editorial staff agreed on was that we needed to take the temperature of our readers. This year’s unscientific survey focused on masking and vaccinations. We asked who was masking, who was vaccinated, and then a few questions around the start of school. 

ILLUSTRATIONS: Mia Carrera

All told, 218 of our readers responded to our survey. More than 47% identified themselves as parents of Highland Park ISD students, while private schools (27.5%), and Dallas ISD (22.5%) filled out the bulk of the rest of our respondents. 

Almost 71% of our readers responded that they were masking in some way — they either had started again recently, never stopped, or were masking in certain situations. Almost 47% of our respondents said they had small children at home that didn’t qualify for a vaccination yet.

We asked where you got your news and information that helped you decide how you would react to the pandemic. Many had a variety of sites they relied upon, with NPR (32.1%), local newspapers and websites (31.7%), and local TV news affiliates (31.7%) getting several callouts, indicating that most of our readers were most focused on what is happening in Dallas when it came to newsgathering.

Fox News and MSNBC were named as sources 11.5% and 8.3% of the time, respectively, while other cable news that was not either of those stations was a choice for 19.3% of our respondents. Others also said doctors, the CDC, and “nonpartisan news sources” helped them make decisions.

We also asked, “If you could say anything about the pandemic and the response to it, what would it be?” 

A sampling of responses are below.

  • “I wish that more people would get vaccinated and understand that masking is not an infringement on our liberties. It’s changed how I see my country and state. I know now that I can’t trust my fellow Americans to do the right thing to keep children safe.”
  • “It’s over except for the unvaxxed. Most kids are not at risk of serious illness regardless.”
  • “We have endured 4 deaths from Covid all unvaccinated and 1 who had a 15% chance of survival and now has long term damage and not much quality of life . The survivor will most likely become bankrupt and not sure if will be able to work. We feel very confident in our decision as a family to vaccinate and wish all families would. Politics and religion have deeply divided our country and world. We want both of our kids to have a semi-normal senior and sophomore year safely. Being masked may be an inconvenience for a little while but it’s temporary. Death and long hauler Covid is permanent as well as creating more dangerous variants. Please mask if you aren’t vaccinated. I promise you most masked are vaccinated.”
  • “If HPISD chooses masks they will lose a repeat state champion ring.”
  • “The amount of misinformation being spread by otherwise smart people astounds me. How can a retired CPA in University Park know more than public health officials and epidemiologists that have been in the field for decades? How does the ego support that? Learn some humility, sacrifice for others, and quit being a jerk.”
  • “Masks don’t work. They are just a ‘safety blanket’ for the weak minded.”
  • “The delta variant has been a game changer. As a icu doctor, it’s frustrating to see so many unvaccinated patients in the hospital knowing it could have been prevented. What’s scarier is the number of healthy children needing hospitalizations from covid now. Please wear a mask and get vaccinated!”
  • “over politicized; media hysteria”

You can see all the responses here.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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