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MONTREAL -- With elementary schools set to reopen in Quebec Monday and secondary schools following suit a week later, a new survey suggests the majority of parents feel their children will not be safe as COVID-19 numbers skyrocket in the province and across Canada.
A Leger and Association for Canadian Studies (ACS) survey found 58 per cent of the 402 Quebecers polled said they think it will be unsafe to send students back to school. Those with children under 12 years old were the most concerned with 64 per cent feeling it will be unsafe.
Just 29 per cent of respondents from Quebec said they think sending their children back to school would be safe.
"It's obviously going to create some perception of contradiction where we're saying it's okay for children to mix and mingle in that school environment and then return to their homes, but in general, there's a curfew which suggests that that very type of mixing is a serious challenge when it comes to COVID-19," said ACS president Jack Jedwab.
When comparing regional demographics, urban residents were the most fearful for their children's safety at schools with 66 per cent feeling it would be unsafe while suburban (55 per cent) and rural (49 per cent) residents relatively less concerned.
When comparing the numbers in Quebec to the rest of Canada, the survey found Ontarians were the most concerned about virus transmission in schools with 64 per cent feeling it was unsafe while just 30 per cent of Albertans felt the same way.
Forty-seven per cent of Albertans surveyed said they think it will be safe to send elementary and secondary students back to school, according to the survey.
Overall, 59 per cent of Canadians with children and 51 per cent without kids said they think sending children back to school is unsafe.
The survey was conducted Jan. 2 and Jan. 3, and polled 1,506 Canadians.