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
- White House Fact Sheet / Education Department Fact Sheet
- The plan includes
- Launching the National Partnership for Student Success and recruiting 250,000 new tutors and mentors.
- Expanding the Department’s Best Practices Clearinghouse to share best practices around academic and mental health recovery efforts.
- Empowering parents and school communities with knowledge about how their school is using and can use federal funds to provide the necessary academic and mental health supports.
- Tracking progress in providing additional learning opportunities: The Institute for Education Sciences will use monthly surveys to track schools’ continued progress in providing summer learning and enrichment, tutoring and afterschool supports.
- White House Toolkit: How State and Local Leaders Can Use American Rescue Plan State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to Address Students’ Academic and Mental Health Needs.
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.”
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
- Researchers at Georgia Policy Labs compared data in Fulton County Schools, Clayton County Public Schools, and an anonymous school district for the second consecutive year.
- Three big findings:
- “The impact of the pandemic on student achievement growth has been greater in math than in reading.”
- “Students who were in elementary school when the pandemic hit have fared worse than students who were in middle school.”
- “Many students have started to recover academically, but improvement is uneven.”
- More from WABE
U.S. Buys 105 Million Pfizer COVID Vaccine Doses for Fall Campaign
- “The $3.2 billion deal announced by the Biden administration comes as federal scientists consider how to update the vaccines to better protect Americans from the rapidly evolving virus. Federal officials said the purchase agreement includes the option to purchase a total of 300 million doses, including a mix of doses for both adults and children.”
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 City is considering a student vaccine mandate.
- Judge strikes down paused Los Angeles Unified student vaccine mandate.
- “The ruling, however, has no immediate effect within the L.A. Unified School District, because the district in May postponed its mandate until at least July 2023 — a move that aligned with the state decision to pause its own school vaccine requirement until then.”
- The Maryland State Department of Education announced the online publication of school spending of federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund pandemic resources.
- The Dearborn Public Schools Board of Education approved opening up the elementary portion of the Virtual K-12 to school-of-choice students.
- The state Department of Public Instruction and the NC Collaboratory, a policy research center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, are leading a joint $6 million effort to spur research on the impact of COVID-19 on student learning and the evaluation of existing policies and programs aimed at overcoming those challenges.
- All UNC System HBCUs are offering free summer classes to help students get ahead.
- “More than half of all second graders who attend Memphis-Shelby County Schools finished the recent school year at risk of being retained and not promoted to the third grade under a new policy aimed at increasing literacy skills for students.”
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
- Sesame Workshop, in collaboration with the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative’s COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative launched a new PSA today featuring Elmo and his dad Louie. (Press Release)
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
- 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
- Black, Special Needs Kids Punished at Greater Rate Through Pandemic, Study Shows
- How 12 Educators & Mentors Are Weaving a Stronger Society, Starting With Schools
- Mental Health, Teacher Shortages, Uvalde: Students Talk 2022’s Key School Issues
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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