September 28, 2021

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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.

Long-lasting COVID Symptoms Rarer in Children Than in Adults: Article by the authors of a UK study

  • “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.”

Research indicates children are less likely than adults to experience long-term effects from COVID-19. (Getty Images)

August 27, 2021 — The Big Three

Why Parents Kept Their Kids Home From School: Via Jessica McCrory Calarco in The Atlantic on a new paper based on a survey of 1,668 parents.

  • “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.”

Getty Images

FDA Approves First COVID-19 Vaccine: Pfizer-BioNTech received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration on Monday.

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 Updates

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: 

South Carolina: Disability rights groups, ACLU and parents sue over state measure meant to ban school mask mandates. Read the lawsuit here.

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.

COVID-19 Research

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.

Pfizer: Submitted data saying a third shot boosts antibodies.

Booster Debate: 

  • 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: 

Masks Are a Must-Have to Go Back to School During the Delta Variant Surge: Via Scientific American.

American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association

Children and COVID-19: State-Level Data Report: Latest American Academy of Pediatrics data show a big jump in cases week over week.

Viewpoints

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.

Poll About COVID Safety Measures in Schools by Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research: Poll / Story

  • 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.

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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