A majority of Virginians are skeptical about the safety of reopening schools for in-person classes, VCU poll finds
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 17, 2020
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Farrah Stone, Ph.D.
Phone: (804) 305-3447
RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 17, 2020) — Fifty-five percent of Virginians think it is not too safe or not at all safe to send children in their community back to school for in-person classes, while 42% think it is very safe or somewhat safe, according to a new statewide poll conducted by the Center for Public Policy at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Regionally, Tidewater and South Central are the most skeptical with 46% and 44% respectively saying it’s not at all safe, the poll found. More than half of minorities (56%) think it’s not at all safe to have in-person classes and Democrats also were more skeptical with 77% saying it’s not too safe or not at all safe. Conversely, Republicans were more likely to see in-person classes as very or somewhat safe (60%). Fifty-three percent of parents of school-age children said the same.
“The concerns over premature school openings confirms that adequate plans vouchsafing safety have not been shown to the people, particularly the minority communities,” said former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder.
The poll also provides additional insight into Virginians’ opinions on COVID-19 vaccines.
Among the poll’s key findings:
- Four in 10 Virginians say they are not likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Forty percent of respondents said they are not too or not at all likely to get a Food and Drug Administration-approved, no-cost vaccine to prevent COVID-19, if one becomes available, while 58% say they are very or somewhat likely to do so. This is comparable to a national level finding released in August reporting that 35% of respondents would not get a vaccine. Women are more skeptical of getting a COVID-19 vaccine than men. Women were evenly split with 48% being very or somewhat likely to get the vaccine and 48% saying not too or not at all likely. Conversely, 7 in 10 men (70%) are very or somewhat likely to get vaccinated, with 52% saying very likely. Differences also fell along party lines with independents and Democrats being more likely to get the vaccine, with 63% and 59% being very or somewhat likely. Republicans are evenly split with 49% saying very or somewhat likely and 49% saying not too or not at all likely. More than a third (35%) say they are not at all likely to get the vaccine.
- Two-thirds of Virginians are against requiring residents to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Sixty-six percent say they are against having a requirement for vaccination if an FDA-approved, no-cost vaccine becomes available. Thirty-one percent would support a required vaccine.
The poll, a telephone survey of 804 adults living in Virginia was conducted between Aug. 28 and Sept. 7. It has an estimated margin of error of 5.17 percentage points for all adults sampled, and 6.22 percentage points for likely voters. The entire report with detailed analysis tables and graphics can be found at https://oppo.vcu.edu/policy-poll/.
ABOUT THE WILDER SCHOOL AND THE CENTER FOR PUBLIC POLICY
The L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, named for the nation’s first African-American elected governor, is a top-50 nationally ranked public affairs school. Located blocks from the state Capitol in Richmond, Virginia, the school enrolls about 1,000 undergraduates and 400 graduate students in eight academic programs. The Wilder School’s 10,000-plus alumni work across the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Drawing on the wide-ranging expertise of Wilder School faculty, the Center for Public Policy's programs provide diverse public-facing services including leadership development and training, economic and policy impact analysis, survey insights and program evaluation to clients in state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, businesses and the general public, across Virginia and beyond. For more, please visit https://wilder.vcu.edu/center-for-public-policy/.