Denver survey shows Black, Hispanic families more likely to prefer virtual learning

In late June and early July, the Denver school district asked families to make a choice: Would they want their children to stay home this fall and learn online, or would they want to send their children in person to school buildings, with safety protocols to protect against the coronavirus?

The district got answers for about half of its 92,000 students. For 75% of students whose families responded, the preference was the in-person option, which has since been delayed by at least several weeks.

But survey results obtained by Chalkbeat through an open records request reveal differences by race. While 88% of white students chose the in-person option, only 65% of African American students and 67% of Hispanic students did — a trend also seen nationally. A similar percentage of Asian students, 69%, chose the in-person option.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected communities of color nationwide. Here in Colorado, the rate of infection is higher among Black and Hispanic Coloradans than it is among white Coloradans, state data show. The death rate is higher, too.

Denver Public Schools’ survey was non-binding. The purpose, district officials said, was to help the district plan for the fall. Even if school buildings reopen, the district plans to allow families to choose a 100% virtual learning option. District officials said they wanted to get an idea of how many teachers would be needed for that virtual option.

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