A new survey has revealed extremely low attendance rates in online classes in the US, giving weight to doubts about the efficacy of online solutions deployed after Covid-19 shut down thousands of schools.

The survey of 5,659 US-based educators by Fishbowl, a community app for professionals, showed that more than a third (35%) of respondents reported online class attendance was just 0% to 25%, while more than half (55%) said their online classes were not even half-full.

Some 34% of teachers said that only one in four students – or less – was attending remote classes, as the survey found that 62% of working parents were “unable to juggle working from home and childcare”.

The survey’s findings could help fuel rising demands in the US and elsewhere for discounts to private tuition fees, as the coronavirus pandemic has forced instruction online and sparked vicious rows between school operators and their students’ parents, many of whom are seeking refunds because they feel online education is subpar.

According to UNESCO, worldwide closures of education centres – including schools and universities – have affected more than 1.5 billion students, equal to more than 91% of the world’s learners.

In a separate survey, Fishbowl highlighted that 60% of working professions said that the Covid-19 pandemic had “caused clients to pause or cancel work”, showcasing the strain on global economies, businesses and thus parents’ abilities to keep up with expensive school fees amid a bout of economic tumult. More than half (54%) of respondents feared that there would be layoffs at their companies as a direct result of the viral outbreak.