Covid-19 Policy Update #635
The Pandemic Took Young People’s Present. What Will It Do To Their Future?: Very long but also very important piece from Vox.
"By March 25, every public school building in the country had been closed, taking more than 50 million students out of the classroom. And so the US began an emergency experiment, one with no precedent and no foreseeable end, in what would happen to America’s children if we took away the place where they spend, on average, over a thousand hours a year."
"What this means is that paradoxically, the age group that was most resistant to the virus itself may be the group that pays the biggest price over the longest term. Call it the “other long Covid” — and it’s something the US is only beginning to grapple with."
"One survey found that on average children missed 26 days’ worth of school through the first half of the 2021-22 school year, while a New York Times survey found that in January 2022, in the midst of the omicron outbreak, a majority of students were at home for at least three days, while almost one in 10 were out for half the month or more."
"But that attitude fails to appreciate what students really lost when they lost school. “Learning loss” may be the term experts agreed on when describing the effect of pandemic school disruptions, but for the most part, students didn’t suddenly lose what they had already achieved before the pandemic."
"Rather, they lost the opportunity and the time to build on what they knew. And while that may have been a temporary hindrance for high-achieving students who had the support at home to catch up, it was nothing short of catastrophic for marginalized students of color who before the pandemic might have had the resources of their school, and little else."
"An estimated 1 million students didn’t just experience learning loss; they lost school altogether, dropping out or disappearing, an outcome disproportionately seen among Black and Hispanic students. They were also more likely to be among the growing number of students who postponed or canceled college enrollment during the pandemic, which cuts them off from what is still one of the surest paths to the middle class. Students currently in college struggle, both because school closures disrupted the high school classes meant to prepare them for higher education and because lockdowns disrupted the development of the social skills needed to thrive in college."
Online Schools Put Some Kids Behind. Some Adults Have Regrets: Via the AP.
"There are fears for the futures of students who don’t catch up. They run the risk of never learning to read, long a precursor for dropping out of school. They might never master simple algebra, putting science and tech fields out of reach. The pandemic decline in college attendance could continue to accelerate, crippling the U.S. economy."
"But there’s another reason for asking what lessons have been learned: the kids who have fallen behind. Some third graders struggle to sound out words. Some ninth graders have given up on school because they feel so behind they can’t catch up. The future of American children hangs in the balance."
“Schools should never have been placed in a situation where we have choice,” said Tony Wold, former associate superintendent of West Contra Costa Unified School District, east of San Francisco. “With lessons learned, when you have a public health pandemic, there needs to be a single voice.”
"A representative from the American Federation of Teachers declined in an interview to address whether the union regrets the positions teachers took against reopening schools. “If we start to play the blame game,” said Fedrick Ingram, AFT’s secretary-treasurer, “we get into the political fray of trying to determine if teachers did a good job or not. And I don’t think that’s fair.”
Previous COVID-19 May slash Severe Illness At Reinfection by 89%: CIDRAP on a new meta-analysis.
"Our meta-analyses showed that protection from past infection and any symptomatic disease was high for ancestral, alpha, beta, and delta variants, but was substantially lower for the omicron BA.1 variant."
"The authors said the results suggest that the level and length of infection-conferred protection against reinfection, symptomatic illness, and severe disease is at least as good as that provided by two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines for the wild-type, Alpha, Delta, and Omicron BA.1 variants (the study took place before the emergence of the more transmissible Omicron XBB strain and its subvariants)."
"Vaccination is the safest way to acquire immunity, whereas acquiring natural immunity must be weighed against the risks of severe illness and death associated with the initial infection," senior author Stephen Lim, PhD, of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, said in a Lancet news release."
Commerce: EDA released an RFI for the Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs: Website / Press Release / Fact Sheet / FAQ / RFI. Comments must be received by 5 p.m. ET on March 16, 2023.
Commerce: Announces CHIPS for America leaders and staff.
Morgan Dwyer, Chief Strategy Officer
Adrienne Elrod, Director of External and Government Affairs
Todd Fisher, Chief Investment Officer
Dan Kim, Chief Economist and Director of Strategic Planning and Industry Analysis
Andy Kuritzkes, Chief Risk Officer
Sara Meyers, Chief Operating Officer & Chief of Staff
White House: A tentative administration plan would provide vaccines, treatments and tests at no charge into next year.
COVID Poses Severe Risks during Pregnancy, Especially in Unvaccinated People: Via Scientific American:
"But accumulating evidence now shows that having COVID during pregnancy increases the likelihood of severe outcomes and death in the parent, as well as the possibility of fetal complications."
"A large meta-analysis published in BMJ in January found that pregnant women infected with the virus have a significantly higher risk of complications, including pneumonia, intensive care unit admission, mechanical ventilation and death, compared with uninfected pregnant women. And babies born to infected women were more likely to be admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), to be born preterm or to have a low birth weight."
"Fortunately, vaccination mitigates many of these risks. A study published in the February 11 issue of the Lancet found that vaccinated pregnant women were are at lower risk of severe COVID, ICU admission and death than unvaccinated pregnant women. And if they received a booster shot, the risk was even lower."
Unvaccinated More Likely to Have Heart Attack, Stroke After COVID: Study. Being fully vaccinated reduced the risk by about 41%.
Roadmap for Advancing Better Coronavirus Vaccines: The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota released the Coronavirus Vaccines Research and Development (R&D) Roadmap (CVR), a major global strategy to develop broadly protective vaccines against continually emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants and the threat of new coronaviruses that may cause pandemics in the future.
The report, developed with funding from The Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is the product of an international collaboration of 50 scientific experts from around the world who forged a unified strategy to make these critically needed vaccines a reality.
The Mask Mandates Did Nothing. Will Any Lessons Be Learned?: NYT Bret Stephens
"But the costs go deeper. When people say they “trust the science,” what they presumably mean is that science is rational, empirical, rigorous, receptive to new information, sensitive to competing concerns and risks. Also: humble, transparent, open to criticism, honest about what it doesn’t know, willing to admit error."
"The C.D.C.’s increasingly mindless adherence to its masking guidance is none of those things. It isn’t merely undermining the trust it requires to operate as an effective public institution. It is turning itself into an unwitting accomplice to the genuine enemies of reason and science — conspiracy theorists and quack-cure peddlers — by so badly representing the values and practices that science is supposed to exemplify."
"It also betrays the technocratic mind-set that has the unpleasant habit of assuming that nothing is ever wrong with the bureaucracy’s well-laid plans — provided nobody gets in its way, nobody has a dissenting point of view, everyone does exactly what it asks, and for as long as officialdom demands."
Do Masks Work?: Via Katelyn Jetelina and Kristen Panthagani:
"But how much do masks reduce transmission? Studies have attempted to answer this:"
"Mask wearing corresponded to a 19% decrease in the R(0) in one study. In other words, masks helped reduce transmission."
"In Bangladesh villages were randomized to be provided free masks. Villages that got the intervention had more than double the mask usage than villages that didn’t (13% vs. 42%). This resulted in a 9% reduction in cases in the mask-wearing villages."
"In the U.S., a 10% increase in mask wearing was associated with greater control of transmission."
"In Germany, mask mandates reduced spread by 45%."
"These studies found a huge range (9%-45%) and reflect vastly different settings and cultures. We need more studies. Many unanswered questions also remain: At what R(0) do masks not help? How many people have to wear them well to help reduce transmission (i.e. compliance)? How does social pressure or fear impact usage?"
"If we just look at the mask studies, the Cochrane review included 12 studies. But the details matter, as these studies:
"Only included randomized control trials (RCTs). This is typical for meta-analyses as RCTs are the “gold standard” for scientific questions. But these RCTs had a number of problems and, given the limited number of RCTs on COVID-19, do not represent the totality of evidence (i.e., see all studies above)."
"Combined different viruses. When a virus is less contagious, an effect is harder to detect. Many of the RCTs evaluated influenza, which is far less contagious than COVID-19. This means that if we combine them, the impact of masks may be underestimated. (Another scientist, separate from this review, removed the flu studies and reran the meta-analysis. He found masks protected against SARS-CoV-2.)"
"Combined settings. Studies ranged from suburban schools to hospital wards in high‐income countries, crowded inner city settings in low‐income countries, and an immigrant neighborhood in a high‐income country."
"Only asked one question. Does wearing a mask protect me? This ignores other important questions."
More via The Conversation: "Yes, masks reduce the risk of spreading COVID, despite a review saying they don’t"
Plans to Require Student COVID-19 Vaccinations Flopped. Here’s Why: Via EdWeek.
Courts nixed district mandates, and states have rethought their own requirements.
Compliance is a big concern with many children unvaccinated.
Annual boosters change the calculus.
The public’s attitudes toward the virus changed.
Why the Covid-19 Death Toll in the U.S. Is Still Rising: Via WSJ.
"The U.S., which recently topped 1.1 million Covid-19 deaths since the pandemic began, continues to record several hundred more each day, death-certificate data show. The people who are dying remain old, often with underlying health issues such as heart and lung ailments, the data indicate."
"The portion of death certificates listing Covid-19 as a contributing cause has been above 30% since spring 2022, CDC data show. This pattern likely reflects Covid exacerbating other medical conditions, doctors said. Heart issues, lung ailments, cancers, diabetes and obesity are among common health issues that can complicate infections."
Understanding COVID Policy Overreaction: Via the Temple of Sociology.
Via The 74: 1.3 Million Los Angeles Students Could Soon Access Free Teletherapy
Only 12% of children between 6 months and 4 years old have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and only 7% are fully vaccinated, according to L.A. County data. Black and Latino children younger than 5 have the lowest rates, according to the county’s vaccine dashboard: Just 6% of Black children and 5% of Latino children have had at least one dose, compared with 22% of Asian children and nearly 19% of white children and nearly 15% of American Indian and Alaska Native children.
DC: D.C. Public Schools requiring negative COVID-19 test after returning from February break.
Idaho: Two lawmakers introduce legislation to criminalize giving out certain COVID-19 vaccines.
Iowa: Schools prepare to tighten budgets as pandemic aid ends.
Florida: Gov. DeSantis said that closing school campuses in the spring as the coronavirus pandemic took hold might have been one of the nation’s biggest “public health mistakes."
Michigan: Via Chalkbeat: Federal COVID relief aid to schools will dry up soon. Are districts ready?
"For districts, there’s an added challenge: Looming deadlines attached to the federal aid put them under time pressure to map out their spending and use up the remaining funds quickly and effectively, while also figuring out how they’ll manage without it."
"The Detroit Public Schools Community District, for instance, has notified as many as 100 staff members, including central office staff, master teachers, deans of culture, and attendance agents, that their positions paid for in part using federal COVID aid may be cut or consolidated by the end of the school year."
"Detroit has spent 38% of its federal funds, but other districts that received very high levels of federal aid — roughly defined as more than $10,000 per pupil — have much more ground to make up. Flint Community Schools has spent 12% of the third wave of COVID funds. Hamtramck Public Schools spent 14%, Eastpointe Community Schools spent 5%, and Pontiac City School District spent 7%.
New York: "Thousands of New York City teachers who were denied exemptions from the city’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement filed a lawsuit on Monday against the government that dismissed them."
Economic Tailwind From Flush States: Via Axios.
"State lawmakers have begun to hash out budget plans for this fiscal year. There are exceptions — California being one — but for the most part, state coffers are fat and generally finances are in good shape. That enables state-level spending to help keep growth humming."
"In nominal dollars, states' total balances — a tally of rainy day funds and other reserves — have roughly tripled over the past two years, according to a report by the National Association of State Budget Officers."
How to Use Data to Improve Non-Degree Workforce Programs at Community Colleges: Via New America.
Youth Suicide During the First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Study: "Suicide deaths among US youth increased during COVID-19, with substantial variation by sex, age, race and ethnicity, and suicide method."
Exploring New Frontiers for K-12 Systems Transformation: Via UVA Partnership for Leaders in Education.
Transforming the Teacher Role: How Innovative Designs Can Improve Satisfaction, Retention, and Student Experiences: Via Transcend.
Mac McClung Mixtape: Incredible performance at the NBA slam dunk competition, particularly the last one which he does wearing his high school jersey.
The crowd reactions are the best.
A 3-legged Dog Was Struggling: Via the Washington Post: A high school engineering class stepped in.