The Week in COVID & Education Policy: Many Parents Don’t Plan on Vaccinating Young Kids, More Than a Third of Stockton Students Chronically Absent & More

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.

Parent Polling — 45% Don’t Plan on Vaccinating Children Under 12: Via Gallup

  • 45% of parents say they would not have their children inoculated against the coronavirus if a vaccine were approved for those under 12 years old
  • 55% of parents of kids under 12 say they would get them an available vaccine
  • 82% of parents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 say they would vaccinate their child, but just 1% of parents who do not plan to get vaccinated themselves say the same
  • 83% of parents of children under 12 who identify as Democrats say they would have their child inoculated, compared with 50% of independents and 21% of Republicans
  • 47% say all students should be required to wear masks at school regardless of their vaccination status; 40% say no students should be required to do so; 12% believe masks should be required only for unvaccinated students

October 1, 2021 — The Big Three

Huge New Demand for Remote Learning, Rethinking Bans on Virtual Options: Via CRPE in The 74

  • “Between July and September, the number of districts in our nationwide review of 100 large and urban school systems offering remote learning more than doubled, from 41 to 94.”
  • “Some districts were not prepared for the volume of students seeking these programs: Sacramento City Unified only had enough teachers for a quarter of their registered virtual learners a week into the school year.”
  • “Indianapolis Public Schools is contracting with Paramount Schools of Excellence (K-8) and Phalen Leadership Academies (K-12) to operate online schools that offer small-group instruction, tutoring, social-emotional resources for students with disabilities and English learners, enrichment and electives.”
(Ben Hasty / Getty Images)

CDC Study — K-12 School Mask Policies and School-Associated COVID-19 Outbreaks: New study of schools in Maricopa and Pima Counties, Arizona

  • Schools without a mask requirement were 3.5 times more likely to have outbreaks than schools that started the year requiring masks
  • Among the 999 schools included in the analysis, 210 (21%) started requiring masks early in the school year, 309 (30.9%) started their requirement late (a median of 15 days after school began) and 480 (48%) had no mask requirement
  • From July 15 to Aug. 31, of 191 school-associated outbreaks:
    • 16 (8.4%) occurred in schools with early mask requirements
    • 62 (32.5%) occurred in schools with late mask requirements
    • 113 (59.2%) occurred in schools without a mask requirement

Chronic Absenteeism Major Problem in California; Twice as Many Kids Now Missing in Stockton 

  • The day after Gov. Newsom secured a landslide victory in the Sept. 14 recall election, he touted progress in reopening campuses. But one major caveat to 95% of students returning to in-person instruction: Chronic absenteeism
  • Almost 33% of Oakland Unified students have been chronically absent.
  • Problem is even more dire in Stockton, where 39% of students have been chronically absent — missing more than 10% of school days
  • That rate is more than double what it was two years ago
  • One possible issue contributing to the staggering numbers, per experts: Kids in quarantine, who are counted absent if they don’t log on every day and complete their assignments. more than double the rate two years ago.
  • If that’s the case, could it point to routinely interrupted learning for scores of students across the state — and the country?

COVID-19 Research

Pfizer: Officially submitted data to FDA on its COVID-19 vaccine for younger kids

  • But: “That [approval] process may mean the shots may not be available until closer to Thanksgiving, according to a person familiar with the process but not authorized to discuss it publicly. But it is possible that, depending on how quickly the FDA acts, the shots could become available earlier in November, the person said.”
  • Vaccine Data for Kids Under 5 Are Coming ‘Before the End of the Year’: According to Pfizer’s CEO

Pediatric COVID-19 Cases in Counties With and Without School Mask Requirements: CDC report

  • “Counties without school mask requirements experienced larger increases in pediatric COVID-19 case rates after the start of school compared with counties that had school mask requirements.”
  • But: “The findings in this report are subject to at least four limitations. First, this was an ecologic study, and causation cannot be inferred.”

Mapping America’s Hospitalization and Vaccination Divide: Via The Washington Post. Green is high vaccination/low hospitalization. Purple is low vaccination/high hospitalization

Kaiser Family Foundation COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor on Boosters: New survey results.

  • “A larger share of vaccinated adults say the information they have seen about boosters has been helpful (54%) than find it confusing (35%). Among the unvaccinated, almost twice as many find the information confusing as find it helpful (45% vs. 24%).”
  • “Moreover, most unvaccinated adults see the booster discussion as a sign that the vaccines are not working as well as promised, while most vaccinated adults see it as a sign that scientists are continuing to find ways to make vaccines more effective.”

Booster Side Effects: A CDC report found that the side effects of a COVID-19 booster dose are similar to those of a second dose of vaccine, with no new serious unexpected patterns emerging.

Vaccine Hesitancy: Really thoughtful answer by NBA star Jonathan Isaac on his hesitancy around the vaccine

Public School Staff Covered by President Biden’s OSHA Vaccine or Testing Mandate: Via Nat Malkus

Federal Updates 

Institute of Education Sciences:

Federal Communications Commission: Here’s the official FCC announcement of the $1.2 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund awards to 3,040 schools, 260 libraries and 24 consortia, and here’s a spreadsheet of the schools and amount allocated

Treasury: Released guidance on the $10 billion Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund. For a project to be an eligible use of funds, it must meet all of these three criteria:

  • It invests in capital assets designed to directly enable work, education and health monitoring
  • It is designed to address a critical need that resulted from or was made apparent or exacerbated by the COVID-19 public health emergency
  • It is designed to address a critical need of the community to be served by it

City & State News


Alabama: The state Department of Public Health “says consistent and correct mask use in schools has helped reduce the number of cases of COVID-19, helped schools remain open to in-person learning in Alabama and helped prevent the consequences of this serious disease.”

Arizona: School mask mandate ban ruled unconstitutional.

D.C.: Washington Post op-ed by the head of Rocketship DC: “My D.C. charter schools required staff to be vaccinated. Here’s what happened.”

Florida: Education Secretary Miguel Cardona called a new rule restricting schools from requiring students to quarantine after having a direct exposure to COVID-19 “dangerous” and “irresponsible.”

Illinois: St. Charles teacher files lawsuit over state vaccine mandate. Another 11 teachers have filed a lawsuit against Edwardsville CUSD 7 and Triad CUSD 2 over the statewide COVID vaccination, testing and masking mandates for school employees.

Iowa: COVID-19 outbreaks have been traced in at least 25% of Iowa schools, court documents say.

New Mexico: New Mexico Public Education Department says spring testing data won’t be released to public.


Indoor Masking Doesn’t Always Make Sense When Everyone is Vaccinated: Argues Joseph Allen in a new Washington Post op-ed

  • “We have to think about this in terms of likelihoods. Being vaccinated reduces the chance of getting any infection by about 80 percent or more. Yes, breakthroughs do happen. But symptomatic breakthroughs should not be a major problem — the days of ‘toughing out’ a cold and heading into the office or campus while sick are over. Weed out the symptomatic breakthroughs, and the pool of potentially infectious people becomes even smaller.”
  • “We overestimate the risk of transmission because we forget about joint probabilities. A lot of things have to line up for someone to be exposed and get COVID-19 in a fully vaccinated environment.”
  • “On top of this, what’s the risk that a vaccinated individual ends up with severe illness? Here, the vaccines have an impeccable record — proving 95 percent effective at preventing hospitalization and death.”

Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index: New poll:

  • “Fewer than half (45%) now trust President Biden to provide accurate information about coronavirus, down significantly from when he took office in January (58%).”
  • “The number who trust in the federal government to relay accurate information has also declined to just under half (49%), compared to 54% two weeks ago.”
  • “Parents with children aged 5-11 are split on whether they will vaccinate their kids when eligible. 44% say they are likely to do so, while 42% are unlikely.”
  • “Overall, about three in five (57%) parents of children under 18 say they are likely to vaccinate or have vaccinated their children.”

Just 1 in 5 Families Was Asked for Input into School Stimulus Fund Spending: According to a new NPU/Echelon Insights poll.

Flipped learning: What Is It, and When Is It Effective?: New report from Brookings that summarizes the lessons from over 300 published studies on flipped learning. “The findings suggest that flipped learning might be worth a try.”

Communities Should Use Pandemic Recovery Funds Both Inside and Outside of Traditional School to Benefit K-12 Kids and Families: More from Bruno Manno in The 74.

The Pandemic’s Effect on Demand for Public Schools, Homeschooling and Private Schools: National Bureau of Economics Research paper

  • Public school enrollment declined noticeably in fall 2020, with about 3 percent of Michigan students and 10 percent of kindergartners using other options
  • Most of this was driven by homeschooling rates jumping substantially, driven largely by families with children in elementary school
  • Homeschooling increased more where schools provided in-person instruction, while private schooling increased more where instruction was remote, suggesting heterogeneity in parental concerns about children’s physical health and instructional quality

It’s Time for a New Accountability Model for Alternative and Virtual K-12 Schools: Via Michael Horn.

Mounting COVID Deaths Fuel School Bus Drivers’ Fears: Via Kaiser Health News

…And on a lighter note

Mama Bear and Cub: Enjoy slides at a school playground in North Carolina.

ICYMI @The74

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

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

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