Majority parents confident of sending kids to school

By Eudore R. Chand

DUBAI 16 August 2020: Nearly half of the parents in the UAE are willing to send their children to school every day if classes are conducted with 100 percent physical attendance, reveals the Back-to-School survey.

It was commissioned by Centrepoint, the Landmark Group’s fashion destination, and conducted by YouGov, covering over 500 respondents – mostly parents – across the UAE.

Life during the Covid-19 pandemic has been difficult for parents and children alike. The findings from the ‘Back-to-School’ survey conducted from July 22 to 29, in key GCC markets, highlights parents’ sentiment on schools reopening and their concerns for the safety of their children at the school following the pandemic. The survey details the challenges they faced with e-learning and offers interesting insights on how the pandemic has impacted the back-to-school shopping trends.

While school administrators are finalising the operating models for the next academic year, the survey found that 61 percent of the parents are confident about sending their children back to school after the summer break, while 49 percent are willing to send their children in physical classrooms on a regular basis with 100 percent attendance.

Difficult Decision

Parents are faced with difficult decision of whether to send their children back to school. The data indicates that hygiene and safety protocols employed by the school is one of the key factors that will influence the choice of 64 percent of parents. Moreover, 52 percent believe that availability of the Covid-19 vaccine is the second important aspect to consider while 46 percent will be assessing the school’s reopening guidelines and plans to understand how they will ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for the students.

Simon Smith, Chief Operating Officer of Centrepoint, said: “The nationwide school closures in spring and the distinctive rise of online learning due to Covid-19 has dramatically transformed the education systems and enforced educators to rethink their learning models. Going back to school won’t look the same this year. In preparation for the 2020-2021 school year, we are excited to present the second edition of our back-to-school survey, which reveals significantly important insights that will better aid administrators to support parents and children and navigate through these unprecedented times, as well as help retailers understand back-to-school shopping behaviours and preferences.

“Although parents are anxious and want to be assured that schools are delivering a safe learning environment for the wellbeing of their children, the survey showed 49 percent of them are willing to send their children back to school every day. As part of ‘My School My Way’ campaign this year, Centrepoint has introduced an extensive back-to-school range, making it a one-stop-shop for all your schools essentials.”

Distance learning mandated by most schools and universities due to the pandemic was an abrupt and radical change for everyone involved. The biggest challenge faced, according to 62 percent of parents, was keeping their children motivated and engaged during e-learning while 51 percent were constantly multitasking and had a difficult time balancing work from home with their kid’s remote learning schedule. According to the report, nearly seven in ten respondents claimed to have purchased electronics to facilitate e-learning for their kids.

Hybrid school opening scenario

A majority of respondents (43 percent) prefer a hybrid school opening scenario – a mix between virtual and in-person education, with most support for an alternate-day or week staggered schedule for students. The survey shows that 25 percent of the parents – one in four – are advocating about online learning and want it to continue, however, 19 percent believe in physical schooling.

The back-to-school season is the second most important shopping period, annually, for most retailers. Centrepoint’s back-to-school survey indicates that more than 93 percent of the parents are looking to purchase at least one item to get their kids ready for school. Out of those who will be purchasing this year, about half the parents (51 percent) are willing to spend more compared to last year, while one in five (21 percent) are planning to spend the same as last year on back to school products.

The influence of Covid-19 is evident in the types of products parents are planning to purchase for back to school. As per the findings, 65 percent parents surveyed are likely to buy health and hygiene products as hand sanitiser and masks, followed by stationery items (59 percent) and uniforms (54 percent).

Physical and online stores

Furthermore, 53 percent of the shoppers prefer both physical and online stores to buy the school supplies. About more than a quarter (26 percent) said they would prefer only physical stores while 18 percent claim that they prefer only online stores for shopping.

When choosing a retailer, apart from the quality of products (58 percent), the Covid-19-related precautionary measures implemented by the brand is an important consideration for 61 percent of shoppers. In comparison, 53 percent of parents said that sale promotions are a crucial factor.

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