New Survey Finds Parents More Optimistic about Next School Year

A new survey released this week by the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) finds that a majority of parents feel they have adapted to the pandemic and are more comfortable with their children attending school in-person.

The CDC Foundation supported the National PTA on three surveys that were conducted throughout the school year to get a sense of parents’ mindsets, expectations and concerns around COVID-19 safety guidance and protocols. The first two surveys were released in September 2021, near the beginning of the school year, and in January 2022, near the middle of the school year. The third survey captures parents’ feelings as the 2021–2022 school year draws to a close, and as families prepare for summer.

This survey showed an increase in the number of parents who reported both themselves and their child feeling happy, excited, safe and calm and a decrease in the number of parents who reported both themselves and their child feeling anxious, frustrated, angry, sad and confused. Although 59 percent of parents believe the country still has a long way to go in overcoming the pandemic, 80 percent are optimistic about the next school year.

As part of a series of open-ended questions, parents expressed a number of reasons for their optimism.

Some believe society is adapting: “I think that the school, along with the kids and families, are adapting to the ‘new norm,'" said one parent. “The school actually does testing and offers the kids and families vaccines. They are finding ways to make group activities safer and easier for the kids and families to participate.”

Others are looking forward to rebuilding the family-school connection: “Returning back to school full-time is something that kids have been anticipating so this will be something that will be special for both children and teachers,” another parent said.

However, not all parents expressed the same feelings of relief and comfort. Black and Latino/a/x parents remain more cautious about the pandemic and show higher levels of concern and doubt than white parents about their children’s health and safety in school. While 78 percent of parents reported being at least somewhat comfortable with in-person learning, only 64 percent of Black parents and 71 percent of Latino/a/x parents feel this way, much less than white parents (83 percent).

The survey findings show that, as families head into summer, parents want to help their children catch up on the school subjects they struggled with during the school year, and some plan to seek out support for their children’s social and emotional well-being. However, more than anything else this summer, parents want to be able to be able to relax with their families.

Read NPTA’s press release to learn more about this survey.

This project was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $500,000 with 100 percent funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS or the U.S. Government.

LSamuel headshot for website
Lily Samuel is a senior communications officer for the CDC Foundation.
Kathleen Jacobson
Kathleen Jacobson, MPH, is a federal program manager for the CDC Foundation.