research has found that parents are more likely to feel hesitant about in-person learning if their children’s schools were closed for a longer period, which was most likely to be the case in the liberal-leaning urban districts that serve large numbers of nonwhite students. The hesitancy was caused less by fear of the coronavirus than by messaging from school districts about whether in-person learning was safe and desirable, Professor Kogan found.

Many governors, mayors, school boards and superintendents are still debating whether families should continue to have the option of virtual schooling this fall. But one February survey of educators found that 68 percent expected their systems to offer an array of remote learning options even after the pandemic ends.

As long as the option for remote school remains, direct outreach to families is the best way to lure students back to traditional classrooms, educators say.

In the Indianapolis Public Schools, 20 percent of students remain in fully remote learning, a smaller percentage than in many other urban districts. The district made 1,000 home visits over two days in April to check on children who had been chronically absent during the pandemic, sometimes encouraging them to return to in-person learning.

Antoinette Austin, the district’s social services coordinator, visited one boy who was living with an aunt. She did not speak English and did not know her nephew’s school had reopened. Several other families needed help arranging transportation to get their children to school, Ms. Austin said.

Hybrid school schedules have also made it difficult for many families to commit to in-person learning during the pandemic.

That was the case for Angela Kersey, who returned her 13-year-old son, Jonathon, to his Indianapolis school when it initially reopened this winter. But she withdrew him when she found that her work schedule in housing maintenance could not accommodate the upheaval caused by the school’s half-time hours and closures when virus cases were discovered.

Speaking over Zoom, Ms. Kersey rubbed her temples as she recalled trying to keep her son, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, engaged with online learning. There was one especially difficult period when the two were sharing a single bedroom and living with roommates. At times, the strain of acting as both a parent and a teacher caused so many fights that Ms. Kersey gave up on virtual learning.

“I had to just surrender,” she said.

Unwilling to return to that routine, she enrolled Jonathon in a five-day-per-week learning center at Brookside Community Church, where college students supervise remote school and sports for 14 children.

Jonathon’s regular school is now open five days per week, but Ms. Kersey said she did not want to disrupt her son’s new routine.

In New Orleans, Frederick A. Douglass High School, part of the national KIPP charter school network, first reopened for in-person learning in October, and now offers students four days per week in classrooms. Even so, wooing students back has been a major challenge. In the fall, 50 to 75 of the school’s 600 students were showing up each day; more recently, about half were. Ninety percent of the school’s students are Black and come from low-income families.

Towana Pierre-Floyd, the principal, has taken several steps to convince families to return. Maintaining upbeat on-campus events, like homecoming elections, showed students attending virtually what they were missing out on in the building, she said. In addition, the school began issuing weekly progress reports to families with students’ grades and assessment scores, a practice Ms. Pierre-Floyd said she will continue even after the pandemic ends.

Because most students were not as successful virtually, the reports left families “hungry for an option to be with teachers,” she said.

Ms. Pierre-Floyd envisions her entire student body back in person next school year, but she knows it will require a big adjustment. Some teenagers are providing child care for younger siblings. Parents who lost jobs in the city’s struggling tourism sector sometimes needed their children to work.

She plans to hire an attendance coordinator and expand an early-college program that allows high school students to work toward a medical assistant certification or develop carpentry skills. She said she hopes those options will show parents the economic utility of returning their children to the building.

“A lot of families have built life structures around their Covid reality,” she said. Now, the challenge is to “come out of crisis mode and let’s think about the future again.”

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