The Week in COVID & Education Policy: ‘Long COVID’ Less Common in Kids, Why Parents Kept Children Home Last Year and 15 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.
- “There have been over 131,000 UK deaths from COVID-19, but early research (still awaiting review by other scientists) suggests that very few children (fewer than 30 in the UK) have died from COVID-19 or related conditions. Consequently, children have been regarded as being at low risk.”
- “Children usually got better quickly: the median length of illness was six days — slightly shorter (five days) for primary school children and longer (seven days) for teenagers.”
- “As many as 4.4 percent of children reported ongoing symptoms at or beyond 28 days (compared with 13.3 percent of adults, using the same methodology).”
- “Nearly all children (98.4 percent) had recovered by eight weeks, suggesting that long-lasting illness is less common in children than in adults.”
- “Finally, our findings should be broadly reassuring as children return to more ‘normal’ in-person schooling in the UK. Our data show that for most children, COVID-19 is a short-lived illness.”
August 27, 2021 — The Big Three
- “Looking at parents whose children had the option of attending school in person (i.e., at a physical school building for at least part of the week), we examined what predicted whether those families chose in-person or remote schooling (i.e., online instruction or homeschooling) and their accounts of the choices they made.”
- “We found … that the biggest factor for many families was rather concrete: whether a parent or other adult was available during the school day to supervise kids.”
- “And because of racial inequality in America — and, specifically, because of racial inequalities in the layoffs that came early in the pandemic — whether such an adult was home varied greatly by race.”
- “Among families in which no parent lost a job and all parents remained employed full-time, 64 percent chose the in-person [option]. … By contrast, among families in which either parent lost a job and did not return to full-time paid work, only 35 percent opted for in-person.”
FDA Approves First COVID-19 Vaccine: Pfizer-BioNTech received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration on Monday.
- “The review of the 340,000-page license application was completed in just 97 days by FDA staff working ‘night and day,’ said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, which approves vaccines.”
- It’s fully approved only for ages 16 and older. The shot is still under emergency use authorization for 12- to 15-year-olds. Pfizer has said it expects to have vaccine trial data on children ages 5 to 11 by the end of September, and the company could apply to have its vaccine authorized for those younger kids later in 2021.
- Why it matters: Numerous surveys have suggested full approval may help win over vaccine-hesitant adults. Full approval will clear the way for organizations to mandate vaccines.
- Related: New Vaccination Mandates for Teachers as FDA Grants Full Approval to Pfizer; NYC Announces All Education Employees Must Get First Shot By Sept. 27
- The name: The Pfizer shot will be called Comirnaty (koe-mir’-na-tee). Of course, you want to learn more about the name …
Maintaining Student Data Privacy and Public Transparency During the Pandemic: New resource from Data Quality Campaign
- “We’re setting the record straight: Collecting and reporting data on school COVID and vaccination rates is absolutely allowable under federal law — the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).”
- “When we allow the public conversation to incorrectly cite federal laws as the barrier to transparency, we’re neither helping communities nor protecting privacy. It’s time for facts, not myths.”
Federal Communications Commission: Announced more than $5 billion in requests to fund 9.1 million connected devices and 5.4 million broadband connections as part of the $7.2 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program.
- “The FCC will open a second application filing window for schools and libraries to request funding for connected devices and broadband connections for off-campus use by students, school staff and library patrons for the current 2021-22 school year.”
- List of states and how much schools/libraries requested.
‘Buried’ CDC Guidance Emphasizes Universal Masking in Schools, Says Properly Protected ‘Close Contacts’ Needn’t Quarantine: Good catch from the folks at The 74
U.S. Education Department: Blog post by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, “Meeting the President’s Call to Support the Safe and Sustained Reopening of Schools”:
- “I am also deeply troubled when I see … officials that are putting politics ahead of students and blocking their school districts from adopting science-based strategies designed to protect students, aligned with [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidance.”
- Cardona was on Meet the Press, where he was grilled by Chuck Todd on how the department would use civil rights authority on anti-masking bans and whether it would adopt a similar approach with institutions of higher education. (Transcript / Video)
City & State News
- Texas Education Agency reverses course, now says schools must notify families when kids are exposed to COVID.
- State Supreme Court declines to hold up mask mandate ban.
- Parents of children with disabilities sue Gov. Greg Abbott over ban on school mask mandates.
- Houston district to offer virtual learning option for students too young to get COVID vaccine who have a compromised immune system.
- Dallas Independent School District brings back 90-day virtual option.
California: Pandemic paradox: Remote learning brought some Modesto educators closer to struggling kids.
Florida: Reported 1,486 COVI9-18 deaths last week, a 141 percent increase from two weeks before. Children 12 and under have a positivity rate of 23 percent, and ages 12 to 19 have a positivity rate of 25 percent.
Illinois: Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union have hammered out about 25 percent of a COVID-19 safety agreement with just a week to go until students return to classrooms.
Maryland: Gov. Larry Hogan calls for expedited approval of COVID-19 vaccine in children under 12.
New Jersey: Gov. Phil Murphy announced all school staff must be vaccinated for COVID-19 by Oct. 8 or submit to regular testing.
North Carolina: A third of school districts have reversed course and will require masks in the classroom.
Oregon: Gov. Kate Brown “announced that Oregon is expanding its COVID-19 vaccine requirement to include all teachers, educators, support staff and volunteers in K-12 schools,” the AP reports.
Pennsylvania: Philadelphia school board votes for vaccine mandate for teachers and staff.
Time Estimate for Vaccine for Children: National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins predicted that the FDA will likely not authorize COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 until the end 2021.
Navigating the Delta Variant and the Future of COVID-19: Great executive briefing from Boston Consulting Group.
Johnson & Johnson: Reported data showing that recipients who received a booster dose generated virus-fighting antibodies “ninefold higher” than those seen four weeks after a single dose.
- “The companies conducted a study of 306 volunteers who received a booster shot about five to eight months after their second shot.”
- “Researchers found that the level of antibodies that block the coronavirus jumped more than three times higher than the level after the second dose.”
- CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said we may not need yearly COVID-19 booster shots. Boosters are needed now in order to “stay ahead” of the virus.
- From Stat: “Many [experts] flat-out challenged the need for booster doses now, while others questioned the morality of Americans getting third shots when most people on the planet haven’t received one. And some worried about a decision made before the FDA or a key vaccine advisory committee had weighed in.”
- Via Kaiser Health News: “As some scientists see it, the announcement is rash and based on weak evidence, and they worry it could undercut confidence in vaccines with no clear benefit of controlling the pandemic. Meanwhile, more information is needed on potential side effects or adverse effects from a booster shot, they say.”
Vaccine Effectiveness: A new CDC report found the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines among front-line workers declined to 66 percent after the Delta variant became dominant, compared with 91 percent before it arose.
Unvaccinated 29 Times More Likely to Be Hospitalized: A new CDC study finds that hospitalization rates in late July were 29 times higher among unvaccinated people in Los Angeles County than among the fully vaccinated.
Sharing Strategies and Lessons Learned for School-Located COVID-19 Vaccination: Sign up for this webinar on Sept. 10 with numerous experts and district leaders.
Understanding the Opposition to Masks:
- I thought this long essay by Allie Beth Stuckey provided some perspective into parents who are opposing masks: Why Kids (And You) Shouldn’t Be Forced to Mask.
- Related: The Science of Masking Kids at School Remains Uncertain, writes David Zweig
Masks Are a Must-Have to Go Back to School During the Delta Variant Surge: Via Scientific American.
Children and COVID-19: State-Level Data Report: Latest American Academy of Pediatrics data show a big jump in cases week over week.
Why America’s Largest Teachers Union Refuses to Support Vaccine Mandates: Emma Green’s interview with the National Education Association’s Becky Pringle in The Atlantic is worth your time.
The School Kids Are Not Alright: The New York Times Editorial Board
- “State leaders would be wise to further protect children by requiring teachers to be vaccinated — without exception. Meanwhile, parents who wish to know what proportion of the teaching staff has been vaccinated are being thwarted by the fact that only a few states are publicly reporting this information.”
- “These findings [about learning loss and the economic effect of school closures] constitute a scalding rebuke of those who have minimized the impact of the school shutdowns. Perhaps the most grotesque of these minimizing arguments holds that concerns about learning loss are being manufactured by educational testing companies with dollar signs in their eyes.”
- On students who went missing from class during COVID-19: “Under the best of circumstances, this means that some of the country’s most vulnerable children will begin first grade without the benefit of having had a crucial preparatory year. Under a more ominous scenario, some of the children who lost connection to school in the upper grades may not return to class at all unless districts make a concerted effort to bring them back into the fold.”
School Districts Have Expanded Their Nonacademic Services for 2021-22: Via RAND and the Center on Reinventing Public Education.
- 9 out of 10 district leaders said their district offered summer programming in 2021.
- 7 out of 10 districts will provide mental health programming for students. 5 out of 10 were already doing this pre-pandemic, while 2 in 10 are newly offering this service.
- One-quarter of districts allowed families to choose a “do over” year for 2021-22.
- 6 in 10 Americans say students and teachers should be required to wear face masks while in school.
- About 3 in 10 Republicans said they favor mask requirements for students and teachers, compared with about 8 in 10 Democrats.
- 59 percent believe teachers should have to get vaccinated; 55 percent believe students 12 and older should be.
- Again, big partisan gaps: 34 percent of Republicans, compared with 44 percent of Independents and 77 percent of Democrats.
The Latest on School District Fall Reopening: Via CRPE, which analyzed the top 100 districts:
- Two-thirds (67) require masks.
- The Hawaii Department of Education is the only district that has a requirement for student vaccinations, and it applies only to athletes.
- 84 are offering remote learning (up from 41 percent July 29). Of these, the majority (55 of the 84 districts with remote learning) make it available to all students.
- Most quarantine policies are for 10 to 14 days.
LearnLaunch’s Building Blocks Framework: Guidance and resources for reopening schools.
This School Year Is Going to Be a Mess — Again: Sarah Zhang writes in The Atlantic.
How Has the Pandemic Affected Students with Disabilities?: A review of the evidence to date from CRPE.
… And on a Lighter note
Imagine An Episode of ‘The Office’: Where they all need to get COVID vaccines…
Meet a Puppy: Hopping along with his bunny best friend.
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Weekend Reads: In case you missed them, our top five stories of the week:
- Summer STEM: A Game of Their Own: Summer Camp Empowers Girls to Design and Play Their Own Digital Works
- Parent Voice: After 18 Lonely Months of COVID, the Kids Are Not Alright. Here’s Why This Back-to-School Season Must Balance Learning With Healing
- The Big Picture: ‘What a Distraction’: More Research on Common Core Points to Meager Academic Gains
- 74 Interview: Author Amanda Ripley on the Pandemic, Trust in American Education and the New Film About Why American Schools Aren’t the Best in the World
- Analysis: From Tracking to Classroom Instruction, Ed Tech Based on Biased Data Can Make Inequities Worse. What Designers and Engineers Can Do
Disclosure: John Bailey is an adviser to the Walton Family Foundation, which provides financial support to The 74.
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