These Are The Parents Most Likely To Oppose School Mask Mandates, Poll Finds

By Alison Durkee, Forbes Staff

Topline

As school mask mandates remain a major source of contention, a new Axios/Momentive poll finds that while 59% of parents support school mask mandates overall, some groups are far more likely to be opposed than others based on demographics like income level, race and their partisan affiliation.

Students wearing face masks arrive with their parents on the first day of classes at Baldwin Park Elementary School in Orlando, Florida, on August 10. SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Key Facts

The poll, conducted August 16-25 among 10,168 parents, found the biggest predictor of school mask mandate opposition was a parent’s political party, with 56% of Republican parents opposed to school mask mandates versus 24% of Independents and 4% of Democrats.

White parents are also far more likely to oppose school mask mandates, with 42% opposed versus 6% of Black parents, 15% of Hispanics and 25% of those of other races.

Parents’ opposition to mask mandates increases as their income goes up: only 19% of parents earning less than $50,000 per year oppose the mask requirements, versus 36% of those earning between $50,000 and $99,999 and 40% of those making more than $100,000 annually.

Men are more opposed to school mask mandates than women, with 36% of fathers against them versus 24% of mothers.

Older parents are least likely to oppose the mandates, with only 21% of parents ages 65 and up against the mask requirements versus 28% of those ages 18-34 and 31% of those ages 35-64.

The smallest difference between demographic groups is in parents’ education level, as 29% of parents that only have a high school education or some college opposed the mandates versus 31% of those with a college or graduate degree.

Surprising Fact

The poll also provided breakdowns among parents in 12 states, which found the states with the highest level of opposition to school mask mandates are Iowa (44%), Ohio (43%), Minnesota (38%) and Colorado (37%). With the exception of Iowa, which bans school mask mandates, states that have provoked the biggest mask controversies because of state-level policies banning school mask mandates actually largely saw lower levels of opposition. Only 25% of parents in Florida, 26% in Texas, 27% in Arkansas and 32% parents in Tennessee opposed school mask mandate bans, and Axios notes Republican parents in Texas and Florida were less likely to oppose mandates than Republicans in other states where the mandates aren’t banned. The polling was based on small sample sizes of only a few hundred parents per state, however, and not all states were polled, so those findings may potentially be skewed.

Big Number

61%. That’s the percentage of parents that said school districts in their area are requiring students to wear masks. The states with the highest share of respondents in areas with mask mandates are Illinois (73% requiring masks) and North Carolina (63%), and the lowest are Iowa (10%) and Tennessee (35%).

Key Background

The Axios poll is in line with other recent polling showing a majority back school mask mandates, though parents have shown lower levels of support than adults overall. School mask mandates have been a particular source of controversy as the new school year has started amid the delta variant surge, leaving children ineligible for vaccination particularly vulnerable. Mask mandates have led to numerous clashes and even threats of violence at school board meetings, and 10 states have enacted policies that prohibit school districts from imposing mask mandates, though not all are presently in effect. Those state policies have drawn particular controversy, with numerous lawsuits—some of which have been successful—and school districts requiring masks in violation of the state measures. Some school districts in Illinois, which mandates masks in schools, have also taken the opposite tack and declared masks optional despite the state-level mandate.

Further Reading

Momentive|Axios Poll: Masks In Schools (SurveyMonkey)

Poll: School mask mandate fight goes beyond battleground states (Axios)

Majority Of Americans—But Fewer Parents—Support School Mask Mandates And Vaccine Requirements, Poll Finds (Forbes)

Most Florida Residents Polled Support School Mask Mandates As More Districts Oppose State Ban (Forbes)

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