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Poll – 13% of Canadian Parents Report One of their Children Has Been Sent Home from School for COVID-19-related Symptoms

Calgary – A month after schools reopened, a new poll reveals that a large number of Canadian children and their parents are dealing with disruption, long COVID-19 test lines and employment insecurity. The poll*, conducted by Abacus Data and commissioned by Children First Canada, surveyed parents of school aged children from October 2 to 6, 2020, and is the first to outline the issues families are facing since the return to school this fall.

Among the poll findings:

  • 50% of parents have chosen against full-time in-class learning, opting instead for learning pods, virtual or remote learning or part-time in-class options
  • 14% report a COVID-19 outbreak in their child’s school
  • 13% say at least one of their children was sent home because of COVID-like symptoms
  • 16% have had at least one of their children tested for COVID-19
  • 11% report one of their children has not had a teacher available to teach their class

Of the parents whose child has required a COVID Test:

  • 60% have had to wait in line for more than one hour for the test
  • 83% have had to wait longer than 1 day for the results
  • 32% have had to wait longer than 3 days for the results
  • 51% of parents waiting more than 24 hours for the results of their child’s COVID-19 test have had to miss work or reduce the number of hours they work
  • 16% of parents have had to miss work because their child was unable to go to school
  • 10% have had to quit or change where they work because of childcare or school challenges, and 10% have had to take extended leave because of these challenges.

“We knew that parents and children were facing difficulties with back-to-school, but this poll reveals an even wider-reaching impact than we anticipated,” says Sara Austin, founder and CEO of Children First Canada. “A startling number of parents have missed work and had to quit or change their work. We are talking about potentially hundreds of thousands of Canadians who are dealing with reduced incomes and increased risk of food insecurity and homelessness.”

“This poll confirms much of the anecdotal evidence we have been hearing about the challenges facing parents over the past few weeks,” said Abacus Data CEO David Coletto. “Not only are disruptions, delays, and confusion creating worry and stress for parents, but 40% report their kids are feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or worried about how back-to-school has gone.”


The poll surveyed 751 parents of school aged children from October 2 to 6, 2020. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 3.6%, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region.

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