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Study: Masking in School Had Little or No Effect on Student COVID Cases

A weekly roundup of headlines about how the pandemic is shaping schools and education policy, vetted by AEI Visiting Fellow John Bailey

This is our weekly briefing on the pandemic, vetted by John Bailey. Click here to see the full archive.

Biden Administration Launches National Effort to Support Student Success

(Mandel Ngan/AFP vía Getty Images)

The Big Three — July 8, 2022

Study: Masks in School Had ‘Limited to No’ Impact on Student COVID Cases

  • Tracy Høeg study of a “natural experiment of neighboring K-12 districts in North Dakota”
  • “We observed no significant difference between student case rates while the districts had differing masking policies nor while they had the same mask policies.”
  • “Our findings contribute to a growing body of literature which suggests school-based mask mandates have limited to no impact on the case rates of COVID-19 among K-12 students.”
(Brittany Murray/Getty Images)

6 Things We’ve Learned About How COVID Disrupted Learning

  • “Students learned less when they were remote.”
  • “Students at high-poverty schools were hit hardest.”
  • “Different states saw different gaps.”
  • “High school graduation rates didn’t change much.”
  • “Many high school grads chose to delay college.”
  • “Schools can do something about it.”
  • More via NPR

Pandemic Negatively Affected Students’ Math Achievement

Federal Updates

U.S. Buys 105 Million Pfizer COVID Vaccine Doses for Fall Campaign

Pharmacists Can Now Prescribe Pfizer’s COVID-19 Pill

  • The AP reports on FDA announcement
  • “The FDA said pharmacists can begin screening patients to see if they are eligible for Paxlovid and then prescribe the medication, which has been shown to curb the worst effects of COVID-19. Previously only physicians could prescribe the antiviral drug.”
  • “ ‘Since Paxlovid must be taken within five days after symptoms begin, authorizing state-licensed pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid could expand access to timely treatment,’ FDA drug center director Patrizia Cavazzoni said in a statement.”

City & State News

New York  

California

Maryland

  • The Maryland State Department of Education announced the online publication of school spending of federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund pandemic resources. 

Michigan

North Carolina  

Tennessee

COVID-19 Research

An Under-5 Vaccine Decision Framework

  • Via Emily Oster
  • “My focus in this post is not on convincing people to vaccinate. Instead, I want to help people navigate the details of their vaccine planning in a way that works for them.”

FDA Recommends Inclusion of Omicron BA.4/5 Component for COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Doses

  • FDA Statement: “Following the vote, and striving to use the best available scientific evidence, we have advised manufacturers seeking to update their COVID-19 vaccines that they should develop modified vaccines that add an omicron BA.4/5 spike protein component to the current vaccine composition to create a two component (bivalent) booster vaccine, so that the modified vaccines can potentially be used starting in early to mid-fall 2022.”
  • More via Reuters.
  • Good piece by Katelyn Jetelina on an Omicron booster

Survey Quantifies COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Among Californians

  • UCLA report
  • “The survey also found that of Californians who are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, 41% haven’t gotten the vaccine because they believe it was developed too quickly and 30% said that they believe the vaccine is unnecessary.”
  • “Only 12.1% of California adults turned to government agencies for their COVID-19 information. The most common resources were television (cited by 32.9% of respondents) and social media (19%).” About 21% of individuals with a graduate degree turn to government agencies for information vs. just 5.7% of those with less than a high school degree.
  • Unvaccinated adults were twice as likely to report that they get their COVID-19 information from social media.

Elmo Receives His Vaccine

Viewpoints

6 Insights on Teaching Shortages

  • Via EdWeek
  • “The pandemic is affecting teachers’ mental health and job satisfaction.”
  • “Teachers have uneven, and sometimes unexpected, workloads.”
  • “The use of virtual teachers to combat the shortage has its pros and cons.”
  • “Teaching needs to be recast in more positive terms.”
  • “Principals are key.”
  • “There is still hope when it comes to recruiting and retaining teachers.”

Why We Vaccinate Kids for COVID

  • Via Noah Louis-Ferdinand
  • “Given the likely cumulative effects of vaccination on reinfection, the benefits of diminished illness and fewer severe outcomes will grow in contrast to the front-loaded costs of vaccination.”
  • “Pediatric COVID vaccines can save lives, prevent severe disease, lessen symptoms for millions, are effective relative to other interventions, and may even pay for themselves. Knowing there is a moderate but positive effect on health we should agree and move forward, unless someone has a better way to spend the money. Kids fall needlessly through the cracks of our indecision.”

The CDC Is Breaking Trust in Childhood Vaccination

  • Tracy Høeg and Leslie Bienen in Tablet.
  • “Even in the already troubled context of the last two years, the CDC’s unqualified recommendation to vaccinate every young child against COVID may further contribute to the profound chasm of trust between U.S. citizens and their public health agencies.”

…And on a Lighter Note

Absolute Chaos

  • You have to watch this a few times to see everything. Like the coach getting hit in the shin. The kid getting hit in the head at the 0:10 mark. Another kid checking out his glove the whole time and missing all the action. 

ICYMI @ The74

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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