Tag Archives: schools

Story ideas for covering the delta variant and return to K-12 classrooms

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and other outlets.

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

Schools still ill-equipped to serve special-ed students with mental illnesses

About Katti Gray

Katti Gray (@kattigray) is AHCJ's core topic leader for behavioral and mental health. A former Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellow, Gray is providing resources to help AHCJ members expand their coverage of mental health amid ongoing efforts to de-stigmatize mental illness and to place mental health care on par with all health care.

School desks in an empty classroom

Photo: Alachua County via Flickr

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

The challenge of finding data on COVID-19 testing and school openings

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and other outlets.

Dodger Stadium testing site

Photo: Chris Yarzab via Flickr

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

CDC highlights case study on how schools could reopen safely

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and other outlets.

school busTo 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

Community transmission rate key to K-12 school reopening

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and other outlets.

school busAs 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