A girl wearing a mask reads a book. (Photo: Kelly Sikkema, Unsplash)

Have a kid with a cough? One-third of Canadians think parents will still send children to school while sick: USask survey

SASKATOON – More than one-third of Canadians don’t trust parents to keep their children home from school if they develop COVID-19 symptoms.

This is just one of the compelling findings of the Taking the Pulse of Canada national survey conducted by the University of Saskatchewan’s (USask) Canadian Hub for Applied and Social Research (CHASR), which received responses from 1,000 Canadian adults 18 years of age and older, contacted between Sept. 3 and Sept. 28 via landlines and cellphone.

The primary focus was to ask about the extent to which COVID-19 may or may not be a problem in schools, and to gauge Canadians’ response overall to public health guidelines.

Researchers also discovered that a majority support public health guidelines such as requirements for masking in indoor public spaces and restrictions on social gatherings as well as mass gatherings.

There are notable variations in responses from Canada’s regions to public health measures, as well as differences between men and women on such concerns as the spread of the pandemic in K-12 schools and on the possibility that their child would get very sick or hospitalized with COVID-19.

“These results are very much reflective of the patchwork quilt of public health measures currently in place across Canada,” said CHASR Director Jason Disano. “There is currently less consistency in public health measures than at any point during the pandemic.” 

Among the survey’s findings: 89 per cent of respondents said they were vaccinated; Quebec and the Prairie provinces (Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan) are less likely than other regions to support requiring students and staff to wear masks inside schools or limiting the size of social gatherings; Ontario and Prairie respondents are less trusting of parents to keep kids with COVID-19 symptoms out of school than British Columbians or Quebecers; and B.C. and Prairie residents are less likely to think COVID-positive people should be required to isolate themselves.

Other highlights:

  • Vaccinated persons were more likely support most public health measures.
  • 21 per cent of the respondents had children in school. Of them, 89 per cent were vaccinated. Unsurprisingly, their children were more likely to be vaccinated, as well.
  • Women are more supportive of measures such as indoor masking, limiting the number of persons allowed in businesses, and restricting the size of social gatherings and mass gatherings.
  • Unvaccinated people were more trusting of parents to keep COVID-symptomatic children at home from school, while younger respondents (under age 55) were less likely to be as trusting.
  • Those over age 55 were far more concerned than younger respondents about the spread of COVID-19 in schools in their area, and at post-secondary institutions.
  • Quebec and Ontario parents (78 and 64 per cent) were confident of COVID-19 safeguards enacted by schools, compared to those in Atlantic Canada, B.C. and the Prairies (51 per cent or below). 

“The overall national numbers on support for public health measure are driven largely by Central Canada and Atlantic Canada,” said Disano. “Saskatchewan and Alberta actually bring those numbers down somewhat.”

The results of the survey yield a margin of error of +/- 3.1 per cent nationally (19 times out of 20, meaning the results can be considered reliable 95 per cent of the time). Results broken down by region have a higher margin of error because of the smaller number of respondents from each region.


For more information, contact:  

Victoria Dinh 
USask Media Relations 

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