By the Numbers: Canadians worried COVID-19 pandemic will worsen as kids head back to school

Vancouver – August 29, 2020 – A new survey of attitudes and behaviours during the COVID-19 recovery finds that Canadians are worried the coronavirus pandemic will worsen as children head back to school in September, and amid perceptions that citizens are becoming more relaxed with their precautions.  

Entitled “COVID-19: Ongoing Monitoring of Canadian Perceptions & Behaviour – Wave 20,” the Angus Reid Group survey interviewed Canadian adults across the country between August 24 to 25, asking people about their views and behaviours when it comes to sending children back to school, the safety of classrooms, and returning to restaurants as Canada attempts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

With respect to the new school year, 51 percent of respondents said the coronavirus crisis will “get worse” or “much worse” in September and October. Among those who think the pandemic will worsen in the fall, 38 percent cited sending children back to school as the main reason for their gloomy outlook, while 32 percent stated that “everyone is getting more relaxed with their precautions” for combating COVID-19. Another 16 percent pointed to the start of the flu season as the primary reason for their concern.

The tempered expectations for the fall coincide with a decrease in the number of Canadians who say things are getting better in Canada during the recovery (68 percent of respondents, down from more than 70 percent in the previous survey).  

Despite these findings, Canadians have a much more optimistic outlook of where things are heading compared to the rest of the world. For example, only 32 percent of Canadians believe things are getting worse domestically, compared to 62 percent of citizens who feel this way worldwide. 

As well, concerns about a potential autumn spike in COVID-19 cases are not preventing Canadians from returning to restaurants amid the recovery, as 66 percent of respondents say they are “fine with” going to restaurants or “would go cautiously,” compared to the 83 percent of citizens who said they were avoiding restaurants in late March.

Indeed, the number of Canadians who say they are getting take-out food from restaurants, ordering from drive-throughs, and eating on patios at traditional and fast food restaurants are up across the board since mid-July, which is encouraging news for restaurant workers.

The survey sample was balanced and weighted based on age, gender, and province according to the latest Census data, and the results are considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times of out 20. To read the full survey, click here.