Wes Bowers, Lodi News-Sentinel, Calif. via Yahoo News

·3 min read

Feb. 27—STOCKTON — A poll of 500 San Joaquin County residents conducted last month indicates nearly half the families in the region have been hit hard in the pocketbook by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The poll was conducted by Change Research and commissioned by San Joaquin County A+, a nonprofit focused on supporting education.

Some 535 residents from Stockton, Lodi, Manteca, Tracy and other communities across the county were surveyed for the poll between Feb. 2 and 4, the nonprofit said.

According to the poll, 45% of those surveyed said that they or someone in their household have had their working hours reduced since the pandemic began last March.

The poll found that the Hispanic community, who have already been identified as most susceptible to the virus, are also the most impacted financially. Of that 45%, the poll found that 53% are Hispanic residents.

One third of all surveyed — or 34% — said they live in a household where someone has lost a job. Again, the Hispanic community was impacted the most, as they made up 37% of poll respondents compared to Caucasian households, which accounted for 30%.

A fifth of these respondents have been unable to pay rent or mortgages, of whom 29% were Hispanic and 17% were Caucasian.

“This data confirms what we’ve been hearing from families and many of us can feel intuitively,” San Joaquin A+ CEO Don Shalvey said in a media statement released this week.

“Families are hurting financially,” he said. “They’re deeply worried about their children’s emotional well-being, and they are concerned that their children aren’t receiving equitable access to academic instruction.”

According to the poll, 70% of parents said they were concerned about their children falling behind while learning remotely. Only 30% of parents polled were supportive of distance learning, and another 30% thought it has been poorly executed.

While 42% of parents admitted being frustrated with the platform, another 31% said they were “done with it,” the poll found.

“We know there is a connection between the stability of families and academic and social emotional needs of children,” San Joaquin A+ Board Member and El Concilio CEO Jose Rodriguez said in the media statement.

“This pandemic has revealed, and even accelerated, existing inequality,” he added. “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.”

While 53% of parents surveyed thought school districts that reopened for in-person instruction were doing well to reduce large class sizes and maintain social distancing, 33% said districts were not adequately addressing student trauma or stress levels during the pandemic.

Overall, 80% of those surveyed believe schools across the county need change.

The nonprofit said that a solid majority of those surveyed — 67% — planned to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it became available.

However, the poll found that residents were deeply divided by political party affiliation, as 90% of Democrats were willing to get the vaccine, compared to 36% of Republicans.

According to the poll, Republicans not willing to get the vaccine cited not trusting vaccines in general — 25% — and that they wanted to confirm the vaccine was safe — 26%.

“As we emerge from the immediate crisis of the pandemic, our sincere hope is the policy makers will think about how we can re-imagine education and workforce development in the Central Valley,” Shalvey said. “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.”