Photo by Nenad Stojkovic via Flickr
As children return to school in the coming weeks, it is increasingly clear it will not be the return to normal that many people had envisioned at the beginning of this summer.
The transmissibility of the delta variant of the coronavirus – one infected person can infect up to seven people – and the fact that kids younger than 12 remain unvaccinated, mean school systems may have to update their COVID-19 mitigation measures developed for reopening in the fall of 2020 and spring of 2021.
On Aug. 5, the CDC released updated guidelines to schools for reopening plans, due to the delta variant, that include prioritizing in-person learning, vaccination for all eligible staff and students, universal masking of students, staff and visitors, physical distancing of students in classrooms by at least 3 feet, regular testing to screen for asymptomatic infection, improvements in ventilation and disinfection of surfaces in schools. (The CDC guidelines are recommendations, not requirements.) Continue reading
The mental health of students has been of particular concern during the COVID-19 pandemic, with some students more severely affected by the lockdowns and safety restrictions than others. Particularly impacted are youth enrolled in special education, a population already disproportionately beset by mental illness and school suspensions. Continue reading
There is no federal standardized dataset on COVID-19, testing and school reopenings, making it challenging for journalists to report a national perspective of the pandemic.
Filling in the void are efforts created by journalists, such as the COVID-19 Tracking Project. Other sources include nonprofit organizations like the Kaiser Family Foundation and academic groups that include the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center. Continue reading
To showcase how schools could reopen safely this year, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield, M.D., highlighted an effort in Rhode Island to reopen hundreds of child care programs, while keeping community spread of COVID-19 in check.
During a rare media briefing on Aug. 21, Redfield talked to reporters about how evidence continues to show that mask wearing, daily symptom screening, enhanced sanitation and keeping students in small controlled groups is a strategy that can limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Continue reading
As school leaders and parents grapple with questions about school reopening this fall, a key measure to consider is the community transmission rate of COVID-19, say two educators and an infectious disease specialist.
When states and cities are reporting that more than 5% of COVID-19 tests are positive, the transmission rate is high enough that schools could become hot spots for community outbreaks, they said. Continue reading