GOP complaints about pace of school reopenings aren't convincing anyone


A new poll shows even 68% of Republicans are happy with Democrats' approach.

The GOP strategy of blaming Democrats for a slow return to fully in-person education has hit a snag: Most Americans who are following the issue of school reopening are happy with the way things are progressing.

A Navigator Research poll released Friday asked those who are aware of what their local schools are doing if they are happy with the plan for K-12 schools in their community. Of those, 63% said the plan was going well, compared to just 24% who said it was not. Even among GOP voters, 68% said things were going fine and 23% said they were not.

Even in areas where the schools remain fully closed for in-person learning, people still approved of their local plans 55% to 30%.

Among all voters, 75% agreed more with those who want to make sure schools reopen "the right way for the safety of students" than those who "want to reopen schools immediately," while 18% said the opposite.

Republicans have spent months attacking educators, President Joe Biden, and Democrats for not immediately reopening every school for fully in-person learning.

"Our kids are struggling, Mr. President. Enough is enough: we need to reopen our schools," tweeted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Feb. 25.

"As soon as we started last month, I made a big deal out of the fact that messaging has to be about schools as we go forward," Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, told NBC News on Feb. 16. "It's the teachers unions that want to keep the schools closed. Democrats are ignoring the science, and they're standing with their special-interest donors instead of the students."

Previous polls have not shown much support for the GOP position. According to a Morning Consult/Politico poll released Feb. 17, 55% of American voters did not want to reopen schools until teachers had received coronavirus vaccinations; just 34% preferred to reopen schools immediately.

Navigator Research separately noted on Thursday that by a 47% to 32% margin, more Americans trust Biden and Democrats to make decisions about "how and when to reopen schools" than trust Republicans to do so.

While Republican lawmakers say they want to reopen schools right away, they have opposed Democratic efforts to provide the funds to make that possible. House and Senate Republicans have thus far unanimously opposed Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which would provide more than $125 billion to help schools more safely return to in-person instruction.

Overall, Navigator's polling found the public approves of Biden's pandemic response by a margin of 60% to 33%. Most believe Biden's response is "getting it about right" and that Donald Trump "did not do enough" to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

An AP-NORC poll released Friday showed a similar support for Biden's pandemic response: 70% of adults surveyed approve of his handling of COVID-19 and just 29% disapprove.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.