Parents of school-aged children have a clear desire for them to be back in the classroom in September, although for many a blended approach of in-person / remote learning is deemed most appropriate.

The desired approach for school is highly dependent on grade level, with a preference for in-person classes in lower grades.

HALIFAX, August 14, 2020: As Atlantic Canada entered its sixth month of the pandemic, Narrative Research reached out to its East Coast Voice online panel to assess public perceptions and behaviours related to COVID-19.  More than 3,300 Atlantic Canadians shared their point of view. The following provides one of three research summaries from the study.


Across the region, one-third of survey respondents (32%) have children in their household currently enrolled in school or at a post-secondary educational institution.

Of those households with children enrolled in some level of education (n=1036), at least half have a child enrolled in pre-school or elementary grades, while two in ten (23%) have someone who will be attending grades 7-9.  Close to three in ten households (27%) have a high school student (grades 10-12), while one third of households (33%) have someone who will attend a post-secondary (college or university) institution. Distribution by grade level is generally consistent, although those in Newfoundland and Labrador are more likely to be registered for post-secondary (40%).

With the imminent start of the school year, and the fact that provinces within the region are implementing different back to school strategies, Atlantic Canadians were asked which of three approaches they consider to be best for school this September in their home province.

Findings indicate that parents have a clear desire for their children to physically return to the classroom in September, although opinions are mixed as to whether the best approach is to have only in-person classes with safety precautions in place, or if a blend of in-person and remote learning would be best.

Of note, in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, residents who do not have children enrolled in school are notably more likely to consider a mix of in-person and remote learning to be the best approach, while parents in both provinces are more likely to opt for in-person classes, as long as safety precautions are in place.

The perceived best approach for school in September is highly dependent on the grade level. Overall, parents are most likely to prefer in-person classes, with safety precautions in place for pre-schoolers (70%), followed by elementary (grades P-6) (56%). As the grade level increases so does the preference for a mix of in-person and remote learning. Those with a post-secondary student in the household are most likely to believe that post-secondary education should be a mix of in-person and remote learning (56%).

These results are fairly consistent regardless of province, with the overall trend indicating the younger the child, the greater the preference for in-person classes.

“Parents’ strong preference for in-person classes for younger age groups is likely reflective of a desire to have teachers do the teaching, rather than requiring parents to assume home school responsibilities as they did in the spring,” said Margaret Brigley, CEO & Partner of Narrative Research. “The mixed preference for students in higher grade levels reflects older students’ increased abilities in independent online learning. These findings also reflect the low COVID-19 case numbers in our region, and suggest a sense of confidence that safety precautions put in place, along with low case numbers, will safeguard students.”

Narrative Research,, is one of Canada’s leading public opinion and market research companies. As a non-partisan, 100% Canadian-owned research company, Narrative Research is dedicated to providing clients with state-of-the-art research and strategic consulting services. Visit to join Atlantic Canada’s largest panel, and share your opinions. Follow us on Twitter at @EveryNarrative.

This survey was conducted from August 5 – 9, 2020 with 3,373 Atlantic Canadians (NB: 1115, PEI: 220, NS: 1547, NL: 491) 18 years of age or older, from Narrative Research’s online panel, East Coast Voice. Using data from the 2016 Census, the results were weighted by gender, age, and region to reflect population characteristics.

As a non-probability sample (i.e. a panel sample where residents have joined a panel to share their opinions), and in accordance with CRIC Public Opinion Research Standards, a margin of error is not applied. 


For more information, contact:

Margaret Brigley, CEO & Partner: 902.493-3830 (W); 902.222.7066 (M),

To read as a pdf, click here.