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Survey shows teens concerned returning to classroom amid COVID-19

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PHOENIX — As the first day of school in Arizona nears, a survey found two-thirds of teens are concerned about returning to in-person classes in the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The survey released on Wednesday from 501(c)3 non-profit Junior Achievement and ENGINE Insights found that 66% of the 1,000 students aged 13 to 17 who responded were concerned about attending school on campus in the fall, with 39% saying they are “extremely” or “very” concerned.

Katherine Cecala, president of Junior Achievement of Arizona, told KTAR News 92.3 FM that 71% of teens say parents and caregivers are also worried about in-person education in the fall.

More than half of the students surveyed expressed a desire for an online component to education this fall, according to the release, with 36% preferring a blended schedule and 30% wanting exclusively online courses.

While a majority of teens surveyed prefer online schooling in the fall, 53% said the quality of online classes in the spring was “fair” or “poor.”

Cecala attributes the teens’ low regard for online courses in the spring to the speed schools had to move all students online because of the coronavirus.

“This is just new territory for everyone and the schools are doing the best they can,” she said. “So many schools had to scramble in the spring and the online curriculum maybe wasn’t up to the same level that I think it is going to be now.”

Schools were shuttered for in-person courses across the state on March 16, a mere 51 days after the state reported it’s first positive case of COVID-19 on Jan. 26.

Gov. Doug Ducey signed an executive order June 29 delaying the beginning of in-school instruction for the 2020-2021 school year until at least Aug. 17.

A plan developed by the Arizona Department of Health Services, Arizona: Open For Learning, that aims to provide guidance for in-person learning to return is to be released by Aug. 7, per another executive order from Ducey.

A list of metro Phoenix districts’ plans for beginning the fall semester can be found here.

Teens also expressed concerns about their future in the survey, with nearly half worrying the quality of their education will suffer because of the pandemic and 28% saying they are concerned their dreams won’t come true due to the current circumstances.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Taylor Kinnerup contributed to this report. 

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.

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