My periodic update for those who wonder where I'm getting this stuff!
- I am not in any way a podcast listener, but I urge you to make time, as I did, for this week's episode of Have You Heard about the school reopening debate. Opening with Justin Feldman's satirical summary of what we know about schools and kids and COVID:
Children don't get covid. But if they do they don't spread it. But if they do they don't get it at school. But if they do it's just at rates that reflect what's happening in the the area and doesn't drive community spread. But if it does this is really about greedy unions.— Justin Feldman (@jfeldman_epi) December 19, 2020
...followed by the real version. Solid input from across the country on not just the arguments but who is making them and maybe even why.
- Remarkably, we have federal leadership that cares about this now! Here's some on the Congressional bill filed this week. And we have people in the White House who read the whole thing now!
WH Chief of Staff Ron Klain pointed out that a CDC study of schools in Wisconsin that effectively prevented transmission involved students in small “cohorts” of less than 20 students to help limit the spread.— SmallSchoolsWorkshop (@Smallschools) January 28, 2021
- This piece in today's The Washington Post notes in Washington, D.C. what we have seen happen in other places: it is disproportionately white families who are sending their kids back into schools when that is an option. Likewise, take a look at Rachel Cohen's thread regarding the latest Understanding America Study.
- That aligns with this piece of research from Education Next which did a nationally representative sampling of families to discover what their children were doing and what they thought about it. As I noted yesterday on Twitter, I do find their framing of political perspectives and COVID rates a bit...obtuse. Political parties aren't just sports teams we root for; they're grounded in values and perspectives about how we do things that have impacts. That areas that supported the Republican candidate for president would have more open school buildings and would also have higher rates of COVID by November is not a coincidence. Public health decisions reflect political realities.
- And as we talk about family decisions, we must include disparities such as those covered by this WBUR piece which speaks of Brigham and Women's Hospital:
Lower-paid employees were getting COVID more often than nurses and doctors. Sivashanker said there were dozens of small group meetings with medical assistants, transport workers, the security team and the environmental services staff where he shared the higher positive test rates and encouraged everyone to get tested.
- The above then should be driving conversations now about improving remote learning, and so I recommend this piece of research on how that might be done:
Our analyses indicate that student technological resources, such as high-speed Internet and access to Internet-enabled devices, predict engagement even after controlling for student family income and other measures of household socioeconomic resources. Furthermore, we find that students who are exposed to diverse socioemotional and academic learning opportunities have higher levels of engagement. But even after controlling for a robust set of material, technological, and instructional resources, we find that students whose families remained socially connected to other students’ families were more likely to engage online.
Ideally, I'd hope that this would drive some district conversations.