A survey conducted by the Greater Victoria School District about how parents want their children to return to classes this school year has yielded some surprising results.

The findings come with a warning from B.C.’s top doctors on how to keep COVID-19 from infiltrating the classrooms.

Roughly 13,400 families responded to the survey, and 80 per cent said they want their children back in class for in-person learning.

Fourteen per cent preferred a hybrid model of in-class and online learning.

Two per cent classified their families as immune compromised. Another two per cent prefer distance learning, and the remaining two per cent have decided to homeschool their children.

“I’m hearing from parents all over when I go out into the public and certainly as I receive emails that they are very excited to have their kids come back to school,” said Shelley Green, superintendent of the Greater Victoria School District. “They are confident with the pieces we have put into place.”

Those pieces include strict physical-distancing protocols, frequent hand-washing and the use of masks in common areas.

B.C.’s top doctors are also confident in the school district’s plan, but they are cautioning people that this plan needs to start in the community if it’s going to work.

“How we do in our community will probably determine how well we do in our educational institutions,” said Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health’s chief medical health officer.

“So this is why, again, it’s going to be so important for us to keep the numbers of COVID cases low in the community because that bodes well for a good educational risk profile.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has the same message about the success of back-to-school during COVID-19.

“We have very low level of spread or no spread in most communities here in B.C.,” said Henry. “And even in those communities where we have some community connections and spread, it’s still at a very low level, and we expect to see that in our schools.”

Coming out of the warm summer weather and heading into fall, there does seem to be some concern from parents.

“When the weather changes, I think that’s the big question mark,” said Kristen Playford, a mother of two children in the school system. “What’s going to happen? Are people going to adapt and have a smaller bubble as they go indoors?”

“I am very confident in the precautions that the school are taking,” said Trevor O’brien, who is a father of an 11-year old. “We’ll have to wait and see, but hopefully we can get rid of this soon.”

The new school year is set to get underway in eight days.