By Mike De Felice
Special to Kitsap Daily News
PORT ORCHARD – South Kitsap school officials this week are surveying parents and staff to see how they are comfortable they feel about the upcoming school year.
A similar survey was concluded in June but a second survey is being conducted due to the changing landscape surrounding COVID-19 with increasing numbers of coronavirus cases in Kitsap County, across the state and nationally, South Kitsap School District Superintendent Tim Winter told school board members at a meeting last week.
In the first survey, more than 76 percent of parents surveyed said if public health officials believe it is safe to allow in-person instruction, they would be “mostly” or “completely” comfortable having their child return to school in fall.
Parents were also asked what factors would make them feel more comfortable about their children returning to the classroom. Respondents were given a list of factors and asked to check each one that applied.
Nearly 75 percent indicated such factors include – having classrooms and gathering areas cleaned and sanitized daily and having sanitizing supplies, including hand sanitizer, readily available.
The next most popular factors included requiring symptom checks of staff before entering work (49.46 percent) and mandatory health checks of students before entering the school (43.61 percent). Social distancing was listed as a factor by 31.78 percent of those responding.
Parents were also asked about masks.
Most did not feel the mandatory wearing of masks on students and staff increased their comfort level of kids returning to school.
There were similar responses in both instances. Requiring masks on students drew yes 29.36 percent by respondents and no by 54.10 percent. Having masks on staff resulted in a yes by 29.84 percent and no by 48.61 percent.
The confidential survey was completed by more than 2,100 families by the South Kitsap School District, Winter said.
In the staff survey, employees were asked about their feelings of returning to school in the fall.
More than 69 percent were comfortable returning to schools or their workplace on a normal schedule either “with concerns” or “with no concerns.” Nearly 11 percent indicated they were not comfortable returning to the work.
The survey also asked what factors would help make them feel more comfortable returning to work. Cleanliness was the main concern.
Having cleaning and sanitizing supplies, including hand sanitizer, readily available to all employees, was listed by 74.82 percent. Having workspaces cleaned and sanitized daily was indicated by 71.34 percent of respondents.
Staff members were also asked if wearing masks by staff and students would increase their comfort level. More than 45 percent responded affirmatively while 33.92 percent replied negatively. Nearly 21 percent had no opinion.
Some concerns school staff had about coming back to work included not having classrooms and offices properly disinfected, public health regulations not being followed and the availability of disinfecting materials or PPE (personal protection equipment).
The staff survey included 904 respondents, including teachers, support staff, custodial, food service and bus drivers.