The Week in COVID & Education Policy: How to Protect Kids from Delta, the COVID Recession Fallout Could Affect Students for Years and 14 More Key Updates
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.
As Schools Open, How Can We Protect Our Kids From Delta?: Blog from former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Thomas Frieden that answers …
- How big of a risk does COVID pose to kids?
- Does the Delta variant make kids sicker?
- Can kids get long COVID?
- I’m vaccinated, but my kid is too young to be vaccinated. Should I be more careful?
- Should we really be opening schools during a new surge in cases?
- Related: With the Delta variant rampant, how can parents protect young kids from COVID? The 74 asked some doctors.
August 6, 2021 — The Big Three
American Academy of Pediatrics Updates Guidance on Supporting Emotional and Behavioral Needs of Children in the Pandemic
- “Due to the pervasiveness of pandemic-related changes, the AAP recommends that behavioral and mental health surveillance and evidence-based screening be integrated into every office visit. It helps to implement a universal surveillance/screening strategy.”
- “Pediatricians should ask about challenges related to remote learning, such as whether the family has appropriate learning spaces at home with access to technology/internet service. They may need to reassure families who are reluctant to send their children back to school in person.”
- Read the guidance.
The Fallout from the Pandemic’s K-Shaped Recession May Be Felt By Students for Years: New series from The 74.
- Beth Hawkins uses data from Opportunity Insight’s tracker to examine “how the pandemic’s impact on income inequality has shown up in schools in five communities — Delaware; Washington, D.C.; Austin, Texas; Reno, Nevada; and Colorado Springs.”
- “The inequities on display were not new, but for many people, the awareness of how profound and widespread they are is.”
- Each story offers “hints as to how educators and policymakers can help students recover lost learning and regain the opportunity to secure a prosperous future.”
- Read the full series.
The Madness of Teachers Unions Opposing a Vaccine Mandate: Essay by Jonathan Chait in New York magazine.
- “American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten slipped a rather ominous comment into an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd. ‘We’re going to keep kids safe, we’re going to keep our members safe, we’re going to try to open up schools,’ she said. That ‘try’ was a notable retreat from her concession two months ago that, after more than a year of throwing up impediments to in-person instruction, ‘we can and we must reopen schools in the fall.’”
- “The mere possibility that some schools may be forced to haggle once again with their unions to reopen school in the face of incontrovertible evidence of the need to do so is maddening enough. But the cherry on top of this sundae of public dysfunction is the fact that the national teachers unions have refused to support a vaccine mandate for teachers. ‘Vaccinations must be negotiated between employers and workers, not coerced,’ says Weingarten.”
- “The awful thing is that 15 months of closed schools has brought with it hardly any public-health benefit. Even before widespread vaccinations, evidence suggested that closing schools contributed very little to suppressing the COVID-19 pandemic.”
- Prioritize the health and safety of students, staff and educators
- Build school communities and support students’ social, emotional and mental health.
- Accelerate academic achievement.
- $500 million for energy-efficiency improvements and renewable energy improvements at public school facilities.
- $500 million to support increasing transportation energy efficiency for school buses and mass transit.
- $5 billion to support a Clean School Bus Program.
- $550 million to support the creation and expansion of industrial research and assessment centers at institutions of higher education, trade schools and community colleges.
- $1.5 billion for establishment of the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program.
- $42.45 billion to establish a Broadband Access, Equity and Deployment program.
- $1 billion to enable “middle-mile” broadband infrastructure.
Department of Health and Human Services: “Two more whistleblowers have come forward to allege that children were mistreated by contractors and senior federal employee managers at a Department Health and Human Services migrant shelter in Fort Bliss, Texas, earlier this year, and also say HHS told them to downplay hundreds of COVID infections among children held at the facility,” NBC News reports.
Department of Agriculture: Introduces first Alexa skill to help parents with nutrition information for kids.
City & State News
Colorado: State health officials recommend but won’t require masks for K-12 school staffers, students.
Florida: Broward County Public Schools has dropped its mask mandate after Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order that would cut off funding to schools that kept the requirement.
Idaho: Is experiencing a surge of pediatric cases: “The current pace is 53 per 100,000 children from newborn to age 4, up from 16 per 100,000 two weeks ago, Kathryn Turner, deputy state epidemiologist at the Idaho Division of Public Health, said during an online briefing Tuesday.
Mississippi: Lamar County School District announced that two of its high schools were closing and going all-virtual until Aug. 16 “due to the high transmission rate of COVID-19.”
Tennessee: State education department released state test results. Chalkbeat reports the results showed a decrease of “5 percentage points since 2019, the last time that public school students in grades 3-11 took standardized tests.”
CDC and Delta:
- “High viral loads suggest an increased risk of transmission and raised concern that, unlike with other variants, vaccinated people infected with Delta can transmit the virus. This finding is concerning and was a pivotal discovery leading to CDC’s updated mask recommendation. The masking recommendation was updated to ensure the vaccinated public would not unknowingly transmit virus to others, including their unvaccinated or immunocompromised loved ones,” a CDC release says.
- The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on the Provincetown outbreak: 469 COVID-19 cases were identified; 346 (74 percent) occurred in fully vaccinated persons.
- The leaked CDC presentation used to brief Congress.
The Costs of Selling COVID Fear: James Surowiecki writes: “COVID vaccines are incredibly effective. The media’s overhyping of new research from the CDC is making people think otherwise.”
- “The problem, then, was not what the press wrote about, but rather how it wrote about it, and, even more, how it hyped it. Some news stories had an almost panicky tone”
- “Most egregious was a New York Times tweet promoting the newspaper’s big piece on the new data, a tweet that said the CDC report found that the Delta variant ‘may be spread by vaccinated people as easily as the unvaccinated.’ Again, this wasn’t exactly false. But it was profoundly misleading.”
- “In April, the European Medicines Agency said there was a ‘possible link’ between the vaccine and ‘very rare cases of unusual blood clots with low blood platelets.’ Following the discovery, many countries around the world imposed restrictions on its use.”
- UK officials say European Union leaders who shelved the Oxford vaccine have “blood on their hands.”
- Why it matters: Full approval is likely to help sway some of the vaccine-hesitant. It is also likely to trigger additional vaccine mandates among employers and institutions.
Long-lasting COVID Symptoms Rare in Children: Most children who develop COVID-19 symptoms recover after six days, and the number who experience symptoms beyond four weeks is low, according to a UK study published in Lancet.
The Provincetown COVID Data is Actually Good News (If You Are Vaccinated): Argues Ignu Yun.
United Kingdom: Government officials are considering offering the vaccine to 16- and 17-year-olds. That would be a reversal of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which two weeks ago recommended against vaccinating children.
Chaos and Confusion: Back to School Turns Ugly as Delta Variant Rages: Via Politico
- “Nearly 18 months into the pandemic, there’s no consensus on how to keep students and staff safe. Local school leaders, whipsawed by changing federal guidance, find themselves building a patchwork of protections based as much on local politics as public health.”
- “Of the nation’s 200 largest school districts, 69 are mandating masks, according to Dennis Roche, co-founder of Burbio.”
How Has the Pandemic Affected Students’ Social-Emotional Well-Being? A Review of the Evidence to Date: Valuable piece from CRPE with what we know and what we don’t know, along with recommendations.
- “A significant portion of young people, likely 30 to 40 percent, have experienced negative impacts on their mental or social-emotional health during the pandemic.”
- “Rates of anxiety and attempted suicides, already on the rise pre-pandemic, appear to have increased among all students, especially among girls.”
- “Most research efforts focused on adolescent students. We have little clear evidence on the pandemic’s impact on the well-being of children ages 5 to 10.”
For High Schools, Let’s Preserve Variant of Hybrid Learning After COVID: Argues Michael Horn. “Many schools should explore something that made sense pre-pandemic as well: flipping the school day.”
- “In a flipped school day … students would start their day later — say 9 a.m. — by reporting to a workplace in their community, which they could rotate every semester or year.”
- “After working half a day, the students would then break for lunch and head to school to do their extracurricular activities and work on projects with their fellow students.”
- “Finally, in the evenings, students would take their classes online from home when their parents are more likely to be at home. They wouldn’t have homework per se, as work would simply be woven into their online-learning experiences, as well as their projects with their fellow students and potentially the projects they are tackling while on site at a workplace in the morning.”
The $200 Billion Question: American Enterprise Institute’s Nat Malkus digs into the rounds of federal funding for K12 education with some interesting data and analysis. And he launched an Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund Data Explorer
High-Impact Tutoring District Playbook: From the National Student Support Accelerator
Restart & Recovery — Addressing Unfinished Learning for the Youngest Learners: New resource from the Council of Chief State School Officers that provides strategies state leaders can use to deploy accelerated plans to equitably close learning gaps among the youngest learners.
Fall 2021 School Reopening Toolkit: Great new document and compilation of resources from Chiefs for Change
How Much Have Students Missed Academically Because of the Pandemic? A Review of the Evidence to Date: New report from the Center on Reinventing Public Education
…And on a Lighter Note
Heated Debate On Masks Schools: Is really, really intense between these two.
Weekend Reads: In case you missed them, our top five stories of the week:
- COVID Classroom Crisis: With Up to 9 Grade Levels Per Class, Can Austin Schools Handle the Fallout From COVID’s K-Shaped Recession?
- Climate Change: Extreme Weather, Virtual School and Racial Justice Movement Fuel Renewed Push for Climate Education
- Reopening: ‘Is the Delta Variant Going to Devastate Us Again?’ What This Week’s Reopening of 3 Big Districts That Played it Safe Last Year Might Tell Us About the Fall
- Analysis: How 100 Large Urban Districts Are Wrapping Family & Community Input into Plans for Spending Federal Emergency School Relief Funds
- Pandemic Recovery: D.C.’s Missing Students and the Rush to Avert a COVID Classroom Crisis
Disclosure: John Bailey is an adviser to the Walton Family Foundation, which provides financial support to The 74.
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