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Virus outbreaks unavoidable as school campuses reopen, experts warn

Original post made on Oct 26, 2020

As schools inch closer to reopening campuses in some parts of California, medical experts are warning that the spread of the coronavirus will be inevitable and schools need to prepare.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, October 25, 2020, 6:20 PM

Comments (2)

Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Oct 26, 2020 at 3:45 pm

Christopher Chiang is a registered user.

Dr. Naomi Bardach, a professor of pediatrics and policy at UCSF said, "When it comes to school reopenings, there are two things to think about: first one is the level of community prevalence" and "the second thing is mitigation strategies...I think this is the right time to do it." she said. "It’s a window of opportunity for kids to get educated." (10/19) Web Link

It is true numbers are going up around the nation, but safety must be examined through local data. Boston's positivity rate is rising, most recently 6.2% of testing. Web Link Yet, Santa Clara County's positivity rate has been under 2% of testing for a month now, 1.6% of testing being the current average (our county is not far from SF that has entered the lowest COVID level-yellow). Web Link

Now maybe our safest and most impactful window to reopen for just those children who need it most (for high need students, daycare to do remote instruction by outsourced providers is not the same thing as in-person instruction by a trained teacher). Any future window won't be as effective as a foundation for student-teacher relationships that fortify future remote learning, nor is there any evidence January-February will be any safer. School habits and attitudes formed in the fall are much harder to change in the spring. Even a month of in-person for our most vulnerable students early in the term can have a big impact.

Our neediest kids deserve a neutral look at the science and health experts to guide reopening. What do the data and experts say:
1) Children infection rates mirror community infection rates, so local info should be the primary driver of reopening. That doesn't mean we ignore other communities. It means we look for communities with similar infection rates to predict what we may see, and also take extra interest in communities with higher rates that have avoided school-based contagion, we need to learn how.

2) School closure is highly disruptive, but not a health metric, closure due to family-based infection (the primary route for children's infection) is the safety procedures working as they should. The metric that should matter is school-based infections. We must carefully study every case of school-based infection. If children come to school sick and their cohort is sent home, -if- there is no school-based infection, no additional children or adults have been placed endanger, however school-based infection is something no community should ever accept. Serving children of essential workers, closures should be anticipated and not seen as proof reopening doesn't work.

3) Reopening for the youngest and highest-need can be done safely if reopening is kept small by focusing on this group, allowing max use of distancing, outdoor space, hospital-level ventilation, access to PPE, and regular testing. All those safety measures are easier to provide now if we triage who needs in-person most. Working with voluntary teachers, in other districts, they found many not able to work inside were willing to work outside.

4) We all benefit from the institutional wisdom gained from piloting small scale reopening, Sunnyvale with similar COVID numbers and demographics as MV is doing this small scale piloting right now. As long as reopening can only be talked about as all or nothing, we miss the critical in-between solutions that should be discussed right now, and the students struggling get lost in the debate on what to do for everyone.

For the majority of MVWSD students, we should be doing everything we can to innovate remote learning. There are so many exciting things possible in remote learning regarding project-based learning and self-directed learning. "Overcoming the Misconceptions of Remote PBL with Young Children" by Sara Lev: Web Link

NY Times: "Schoolchildren Seem Unlikely to Fuel Coronavirus Surges, Scientists Say" (10/22):
Web Link

Posted by Luke Jefferies
a resident of Castro City
on Dec 9, 2020 at 8:32 pm

Luke Jefferies is a registered user.

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