New Poll of San Joaquin County Residents Shows Impact of COVID-19 on Education, Economy

According to the survey, conducted this month of a representative sample of more than 500 residents of Stockton, Lodi, Manteca, Tracy, and other communities across San Joaquin County, a near majority (45%) of voters report that they or someone in their household have had their working hours reduced during the pandemic. One third of voters (34%) say they live in a household where someone has lost a job. Hispanic residents have been hit hardest; with (37%) of Hispanic households and (30%) of white households impacted when it comes to job loss.

“This data confirms what we’ve been hearing from families and many of us can feel intuitively: Families are hurting financially, they’re deeply worried about their children’s emotional well[1]being, and they are concerned that their children aren’t receiving equitable access to academic instruction” said Don Shalvey, CEO of San Joaquin A+. The poll shows that parents are deeply concerned about the impact remote learning has had on their children. 70 percent of parents say they are concerned about their children falling behind because of remote learning. While parents give local schools good marks when it comes to reducing crowded events (+53 net positive) and maintaining social distance in the classroom for those operating in-person, they are disappointed in the job schools have done when it comes to addressing students’ level of stress or trauma (-33), and keeping disadvantaged students from falling even further behind (-18)

“We know there is a connection between the stability of families and academic and social emotional needs of children,” said Jose Rodriguez, San Joaquin A+ Board Member and CEO of El Concilio, one of the largest community-based, nonprofit, social service providers in California’s Central Valley. “This pandemic has revealed, and even accelerated, existing inequality. And these results show that as a County, we need to do far more to support these residents and families across our communities not only in coming back from the pandemic, but in overcoming the existing barriers it has revealed.”

When it comes to the coronavirus vaccines, 67% of respondents say they’ll take the vaccine. However, residents were deeply divided by party; 90% of Democrats are willing to be vaccinated compared to just 36% of Republicans.

San Joaquin A+ commissioned the nationally respected research firm Change Research to conduct this survey in order to better understand the experience of local residents during the pandemic and how it has impacted their children’s experiences in education. The survey also asks questions about voter’s views more generally on the region, and what they believe local school districts and leaders can do to help improve education and the economy coming out of the pandemic.

When surveying how voters feel about life in San Joaquin County overall, responses show that voters are pessimistic about the opportunities available to them and are hungry for big change in education and the economy. Two-thirds of respondents (66%) believe things have gotten worse in the last five years, and just 11% say there are adequate opportunities for high-paying jobs in San Joaquin County. 80% say that schools in San Joaquin County need change – and 53% say they need “a lot of change.”

“As we emerge from the immediate crisis of the pandemic, our sincere hope is the policymakers will think about how we can reimagine education and workforce development in the Central Valley,” said Shalvey. “Every child in the Valley should be able to get a high-quality education, and every parent should feel confident in their ability to get a quality job and make a life for their family.

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