As coronavirus cases reach record highs this winter, many school districts have once again resorted to distance learning or a hybrid of remote and in-school learning for children.
This has taken a toll on U.S. workers juggling caregiving and their jobs, as more parents of online-learning students are unable to take on full-time jobs, according to the Economics of Recovery Study by Franklin Templeton and Gallup.
Just over half of respondents (55%) reported that their children are learning entirely remotely, while 20% said hybrid schooling (part-time in person, part-time remote) was in progress.
Another survey found that 72% of parents were at least somewhat worried that their children will contract the coronavirus at school. it’s no wonder that many parents are receptive to learning from the safety of their homes. In fact, 45% are very worried about their children getting infected in school.
But protecting kids and preventing potential household spread of the virus by having children learn from home comes at the expense of cutting back working hours.
Parents whose children are learning online at home are about twice as likely to be working part time, at 18% versus 9%.
Unemployment rates are also higher for parents whose children are learning from home compared to those who are doing schooling either partly or entirely in person, at 11% versus 5%.
These parents are also much more likely to not be a part of the workforce at all — defined as not working or looking for work — than those whose kids are physically at school full time, at 24% versus 15%.
Employment imbalance between moms and dads
There is further disparity among mothers and fathers and their employment status, with more women working part time or less than men with remote learners in the picture, at 63% and 38% respectively.
Men are more likely than women to work full-time jobs regardless of their children’s learning arrangement. Among fathers with kids learning full time at school, 87% have full-time jobs. This drops to 61% of those whose children are learning remotely all or part of the time.
For comparison, among women with children learning full time at school, a majority, 57%, are working full time, but just 38% can say the same when their children are learning online some or all of the time.
In addition, nearly a third of mothers with online learners are not working at all (32%) compared to men (12%).
Women, in particular, have been facing setbacks when it comes to their careers amid the pandemic, with 1 in 4 considered leaving the workforce altogether. And at the Davos Agenda summit, held earlier this week, Kevin Sneader, a global managing partner at McKinsey & Company, stated that "80% of the 1.1 million people who dropped out of the U.S. workforce in September alone were women."
Another survey revealed that women are bearing more of the emotional brunt that came with the COVID-19 outbreak, with more than half — 56% — having more anxiety compared with 43% of men. Women also outscored men in feeling sad (36% to 27%), and fearful (29% to 24%).
Methodology: The Franklin Templeton-Gallup Economics of Recovery Study results are based on interviews conducted on Dec. 1-6, 2020, with 1,374 parents of school-aged children.