COVID Closures: Schools and Businesses

Oregonians weigh in on whether, and how, businesses and schools should open. Have opinions on in-person and online schooling changed after Governor Brown announced she would allow school officials to decide when to open?

On January 8th through 13th, 2021, we asked Oregonians a series of questions about how they feel about opening certain businesses. We also asked what type of instruction schools should offer, to see if attitudes and opinions had changed since the beginning of December. Their responses were analyzed and categorized to allow for a better understanding of trends in Oregonians’ values and beliefs. Findings will include a citation of the relevant question, which can be referenced in the annotated questionnaire and tabs at the bottom of the page.

Businesses: Open Safely, or Stay Closed

  • When asked how they feel about opening various businesses, including indoor restaurants, bars, and various entertainment venues, Oregonians prefer they either open with mask and/or social distancing restrictions or remain closed altogether. Only a small percentage of Oregonians support opening these businesses with no restrictions. (Q8-13)
  • For indoor restaurants, 61% say they should be open with restrictions and 23% say they should remain closed. Only 12% say they should be open with no restrictions. For indoor bars, there is more of an even split, where 44% say they should open with restrictions and 40% say they should remain closed. Again, only 12% say they should be open with no restrictions. Indoor swimming pools are the only tested business that a majority of Oregonians say should remain closed (53%). (Q8-13)

Now That School Officials Can Call the Shots, What Do Oregonians Think They Should Do?

  • Governor Brown has signaled her willingness to let local school officials decide on in-class vs. distance learning. When it comes to a preferred instruction method, a plurality of Oregonians prefer a mix of in-person and online instruction fro elementary schools (44%) and middle/high schools (40%). Compared to results from a survey conducted in December 2020, this mixed-methodology approach shows increased support for both elementary schools (+15%) and middle/high schools (+8%). (Q6-7)
  • For elementary schools, the mix of in-person and online instruction is more popular than in-person instruction five days a week (25%) and online instruction five days a week (22%; down from 34% in December). For middle/high schools, the mixed methodology approach is also more popular than in-person instruction five days a week (19%) and online instruction five days a week (31%). Oregonians with school-aged children prefer the mixed-methodology approach for both elementary schools and middle/high schools. (Q6-7)

Demographic Trends

Identifying What Unites Us and Understanding What Divides Us

  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, give differences in population density, there is an urban/rural divide when it comes to how to handle opening these businesses. For all businesses that were tested, urban residents are more likely to support continued closures compared to rural Oregonians, whereas rural residents show more support for opening businesses with no restrictions. (Q8-13)
  • Rural Oregonians are also more likely to support in-person instruction five days a week than urban Oregonians for both elementary schools and middle/high schools. (Q6-7)
  • People of Color and whites are largely in agreement on how to handle opening these businesses and both groups prefer a mix of in-person and online instruction for middle/high schools. For elementary school instruction, whites prefer the mixed approach, whereas people of color have no consensus. (Q6-13)

The research was completed as a community service by DHM Research in partnership with the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center. Both organizations are independent and non-partisan. DHM Research is a Certified B Corporation (www.dhmresearch.com) and OVBC is an Oregon charitable nonprofit corporation (www.oregonvbc.org).

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