AUBURN — A School Department survey showed that majorities of students and families would feel comfortable returning to fully in-person instruction.

A majority of teachers said they would not feel comfortable with that.

The survey designed by Shelly Mogul, director of the department’s office of learning and teaching, was distributed Nov. 3.

Most people responded before the increase in COVID-19 cases turned the county from green (safe) to yellow (less safe), she told the School Committee on Wednesday night.

A survey of families in the Auburn school district shows 41.6% would be “extremely comfortable” sending their children to school full time. Auburn School Department

She said her interpretation of the level of discomfort among staff in fully reopening schools was a safety issue.

“People said social distancing is challenging at times and enforcing mask-wearing is challenging at times,” Mogul said.


Of the 375 staffers who responded to the survey, 83% were classroom educators. Forty-two percent of all respondents said they would feel “very uncomfortable” if schools were fully reopened in a safe way.

Staff were asked to rate the question from 1 (very uncomfortable) to 5 (extremely comfortable). Another 18.4% rated it at 2.

Thirteen percent said they would feel very comfortable.

Assistant Superintendent Michelle McClellan noted that teachers were uneasy because they were looking ahead to the coming flu season.

In what Mogul called “almost a mirror image,” 40% of the 929 students responding said returning to classes full time “would be great.” Another 15% gave it a 4 on the 1-5 scale.

Sixteen and half percent said it would be “awful.”


The family portion of the survey, in which 1,210 people responded, showed 41.6% would feel “extremely” comfortable with sending their children to school full time. Another 18.3% rated it a 4 on the scale.

Twenty-two percent said they would not feel comfortable “at all.”

The survey also asked staff and families to rate safety measures, in-person instruction, remote instruction and technology.

Safety measures and in-person instruction were overwhelmingly “going well,” according to the survey.

Remote instruction was rated “OK” by both groups. Technology was overwhelmingly “OK” for staff and either OK or going well for families.

Mogul said the challenges for teachers giving remote instruction were getting students engaged and getting them to complete assignments.


She said she would share the survey results with school principals “so they can use them with their leadership teams to make decisions about what to do next.”

To ensure anonymity, the survey results were not broken down by school, she said.

Committee Vice Chairman David Simpson asked whether schools would fully reopen if the county goes back to a green designation from the state.

Schools have been deemed safe by infectious disease experts, he said.

“How do we qualify to return full time?” he asked.

Chairwoman Karen Mathieu said the district would consider the safety of students and staff and defer to the science.

“We would need to remove feelings from the science piece,” she said.

The district has seen 27 cases of COVID-19 (total among students and staff) “that we know of” since the beginning of November, McClellan said. It reported five during September and October.

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