COVID & Schools: New Research Shows Younger Children Most Scarred By Lockdowns

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This is our weekly briefing on how the pandemic is shaping schools and education policy, vetted, as always, by AEI Visiting Fellow John Bailey. Click here to see the full archive. Get this weekly roundup, as well as rolling daily updates, delivered straight to your inbox — sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

Younger Children Most Affected by COVID Lockdowns: The Guardian reports on new research out of the UK.

  • “Aggressive behavior such as biting and hitting, feelings of struggling in class or being overwhelmed around large groups of children were among the difficulties reported by teachers during interviews.”
  • “Claudine Bowyer-Crane, of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, said the findings were worrying: ‘Not only does it suggest that children who started reception in 2020 are struggling in the specific learning areas of literacy and math, but also that a smaller proportion of these children are achieving a good level of development.’ ”
  • “Teachers who spoke to the researchers said the disruption had left some infants with ‘low self-esteem and confidence,’ and that more children than previously ‘feel overwhelmed’ by learning.”
A child looks out a window on March 24, 2020, in New York City. (Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

The Big Three — May 20, 2022

The FDA Authorizes Pfizer Boosters for 5- to 11-Year-Olds: FDA statement and Pfizer press release.

  • The New York Times reports: “Some experts have suggested that because children 5 to 11 received a much lower initial dose than older children or adults, they are particularly in need of a booster shot. One study done by New York researchers found that for children 5 to 11, the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness against infection fell to 12% from 68% by four to five weeks after the second dose.”
  • Advisors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the booster for this age group Thursday, and Director Rochelle Walensky “is expected to sign off quickly on the committee’s recommendation,” according to the Times.
  • Related: Update on COVID Vaccines for Kids, via Emily Oster.

Happy kids waving rainbow parachute full of balls 

Summer Sticker Shock: Via Axios.

  • “Tom Rosenberg, president and CEO of the American Camp Association, told CNN that camp fees could jump 10% to 15% from last year.”
  • “Just as households are paying more for everyday goods and services, camp operators said they’re incurring more costs by having to pay more for camp supplies such as food, bus transportation staff and insurance.”

With Plunging Enrollment, a ‘Seismic Hit’ to Public Schools: Via the New York Times.

  • “All together, America’s public schools have lost at least 1.2 million students since 2020, according to a recently published national survey.”
  • “School funding is tied directly to enrollment numbers in most states, and while federal pandemic aid has buffered school budgets so far, the Biden administration has made it clear that the relief is finite. Some districts are already bracing for budget shortfalls.”
  • More from The 74.

Federal Updates

COVID Supplemental:U.S. faces unnecessary COVID deaths if Congress fails to pass funding bill, top health official warns.

  • “Dr. Ashish Jha, the new White House COVID response coordinator, said the U.S. will not have enough money to provide vaccines for all Americans in the fall without money from Congress.”
  • “We have to plan for a scenario where we don’t get any more resources from Congress. I think we would see a lot of unnecessary loss if that were to happen,” Jha said.”

Internet for All: The Biden administration officially launched the $45 billion “Internet for All Initiative” with three Notices of Funding Opportunity and a new website: www.internetforall.gov/

City & State News

Arizona: Two more bills restricting responses to the coronavirus pandemic are heading to Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk, including one that would impact the ability of future state leaders to respond to another airborne-spreading disease and a second blocking the state from ever requiring schoolchildren to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Hawaii: Public school students will be required to wear masks while indoors for summer classes and related activities.

Louisiana: Students won’t be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to attend school next year, Gov. John Bel Edwards said, backtracking on a plan that faced steep opposition from GOP lawmakers.

Missouri: Attorney General Eric Schmitt is preparing for a new round of lawsuits challenging school mask rules as districts reinstate orders in the face of an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

Pennsylvania: “The Philadelphia School District announced it would allow those who have been exposed to COVID-19 but show no symptoms to stay in school if they mask for 10 days, isolate and test for the virus if they begin to feel sick.”

COVID-19 Research

Omicron Variants: Via Science. “Omicron’s knack for immune escape is dramatic. Based on its immunological profile, it  “should be called SARS-3 … an entirely distinct virus.”

  • “Once again, South Africa is at the forefront of the changing COVID-19 pandemic. Epidemiologists and virologists are watching closely as cases there rise sharply again, just five months after the Omicron variant caused a dramatic surge. This time, the drivers are two new subvariants of Omicron named BA.4 and BA.5, which the Network for Genomic Surveillance in South Africa first detected in January.”
  • “Like the earlier versions of Omicron, they have a remarkable ability to evade immunity from vaccines, previous infection or both — a disturbing portent for the future of the pandemic and a potentially serious complication for vaccine developers.”
  • “Omicron’s rapid evolution creates difficult decisions for vaccine- and policymakers about whether to shift to a new set of vaccines or stick with the current formulations, which are based on the virus that emerged in Wuhan, China, more than two years ago.”

How America Lost 1 Million People: Very good long piece in the NYT.

  • “The magnitude of the country’s loss is nearly impossible to grasp.”
  • “More Americans have died of COVID-19 than in two decades of car crashes or on battlefields in all of the country’s wars combined.”
  • “Experts say deaths were all but inevitable from a new virus of such severity and transmissibility. Yet, 1 million dead is a stunning toll, even for a country the size of the United States, and the true number is almost certainly higher because of undercounting.”
  • “It is the result of many factors, including elected officials who played down the threat posed by the coronavirus and resisted safety measures; a decentralized, overburdened health care system that struggled with testing, tracing and treatment; and lower vaccination and booster rates than other rich countries, partly the result of widespread mistrust and resistance fanned by right-wing media and politicians.”

Omicron Tied to Croup in Children: New study. “The investigators noted that, from March 1, 2020, to Jan. 15, 2022, 75 children were diagnosed as having COVID-19-associated croup at Boston Children’s Hospital. Of those, 61 (81%) were diagnosed during the Omicron period.”

Plaxovid Use Up 315% Over the Last Four Weeks: According to the Department of Health and Human Services

COVID Vaccines May Cut Hospital Omicron Cases in Youth: Via CIDRAP. “Two new observational studies detail Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine protection among U.S. children and adolescents amid the Omicron variant surge, one finding 71% efficacy against infection after a third dose in 12- to 15-year-olds and the second showing lower risks of infection and hospitalization in vaccinated youth aged 5 to 17 in New York state.”


The Pandemic Changed the Plans of Many 2022 High School Graduates: Via Bruno Manno.

  • “Nearly 1 in 3 seniors, or 28%, from the 2022 class changed their post-high school plans since the pandemic began, up from 18% in a previous survey in spring 2020.”
  • “3 out of 4, or 74%, of the 2022 seniors report that they want to go to college, though they’re now facing new challenges. A 12th-grade white girl wrote, “Basically, COVID has just ruined my whole life plans. Now, I won’t be able to go to college or get that job because I don’t want to be vaccinated.”
  • “Fewer 2022 seniors say they participated in career counseling and college financial counseling than in 2019, with significant drops for those who are Hispanic, multi-racial, boys and in rural schools.”
  • More from The 74.

The Data Labs Playbook: The Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University and National Governors Association released a resource to help state policymakers use data when developing innovative projects to benefit their residents.

How Have School Districts Spent ESSER Funds So Far? A Summary of Findings from ASBO International’s ESSER Spending Survey.

Making the Metaverse: What it is, how it will be built and why it matters. Good, long essay by Nick Clegg.

Connection Over Content: A New Era for Education Technology: Via Julia Freeland Fisher.

How Medicaid Can Help Schools Sustain Support for Students’ Mental Health: Via FutureEd.

… And on a Reflective Note

ICYMI @The74

Weekend Reads: In case you missed them, our top stories of the week:

For even more COVID policy and education news, subscribe to John Bailey’s daily briefing via Substack.

Disclosure: John Bailey is an adviser to the Walton Family Foundation, which provides financial support to The 74.

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