TORONTO -- A Pickering family with children entering Grade 3 and kindergarten say that when classes start in two weeks they plan to keep their kids home from school to learn online. 

Father Arjun Devdos told CTV News Toronto that he has too many concerns about COVID-19 and wants his children to be protected. 

“Certainly my son is disappointed that he will not able to be with his school friends and socialize with them," Devdos said.

Reshma Dole of Thornhill said she too has concerns about the virus, but she feels it’s important for her 11-year-old twin girls to get back in the classroom.

“It is good for them to be interacting with their friends, with their teachers and it will be good for them to be interacting with their educators too” said Dole. 

A new survey by the Retail Council of Canada finds that 64 per cent of parents are worried about sending their children back to school. 

The number of Canadians saying they shopped for back to school supplied dropped to 37 per cent in 2020 compared to 41 per cent last year.

Retail Council President Diane Brisebois said COVID-19 continues to pose challenges for many retailers.

“This is really like the holidays for some retailers. It's second largest target period so it's quite important,” Brisebois said.

In store traffic has dropped, but online shopping has almost doubled during the pandemic from eight per cent to 15 per cent.

“People feel comfortable shopping online and retailers have a large number of products online now so we expect this trend will continue," Brisebois said. 

While the sale of clothing and shoes is down, items to protect children from the virus are up. 

“Families are spending twice as much on health and safety items such as sanitization and hand sanitizers,” Brisebois said.

Part of the reason spending may be down is also because many families already invested in laptops and other technology earlier this year to help children learn from home

The council says it expects school spending to be more spread out throughout the year and that shoppers will eventually become more confident in the "new normal" of COVID-19.