Covid-19 Policy Update #640
Tutoring Help Reaches Few Students Despite Nationwide Push: Via Chalkbeat.
"Even as schools wield billions of dollars in federal COVID relief, only a small fraction of students have received school tutoring, according to a survey of the nation’s largest districts by Chalkbeat and The Associated Press."
"In eight of 12 school systems that provided data, less than 10% of students received any type of district tutoring this fall."
"The startlingly low tutoring figures point to several problems. Some parents said they didn’t know tutoring was available or didn’t think their children needed it. Some school systems have struggled to hire tutors. Other school systems said the small tutoring programs were intentional, part of an effort to focus on students with the greatest needs."
"In Wake County, North Carolina, the school district began planning a reading tutoring program last summer. The program did not launch until November, and district officials said last month that volunteers are tutoring fewer than 140 students — far fewer than the 1,000 students the program was designed to reach."
"In Georgia’s Fulton County, 3% of the district’s 90,000 students participated in tutoring programs this fall. Most of the tutoring was offered by paraprofessionals during the school day, with one hired to give intense support in each elementary school."
US Agencies Debunk Florida Surgeon General’s Vaccine Claims: Via the AP.
The FDA and CDC sent a letter to Florida’s surgeon general, warning him that his claims about COVID-19 vaccine risks are harmful to the public.
"The claim that the increase of VAERS reports of life-threatening conditions reported from Florida and elsewhere represents an increase of risk caused by the COVID-19 vaccines is incorrect, misleading and could be harmful to the American public."
"Reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination do not mean that a vaccine caused the event... The Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for the COVID-19 Vaccines require sponsors and vaccine providers to report certain adverse events through VAERS, so more reports should be expected... The risk of stroke and heart attack was actually lower in people who had been vaccinated, not higher."
"The most recent estimate is that those who are up to date on their vaccination status have a 9.8 fold lower risk of dying from COVID-19 than those who are unvaccinated and 2.4 fold lower risk of dying from Covid-19 than those who were vaccinated but had not received the updated, bivalent vaccine."
Collapse of Silicon Valley Bank:
The best overviews of how the crisis unfolded can be found in The Financial Times and Noah Smith.
Also, the financial collapse seemed to have been driven by a communication collapse.
The speed of withdraws was accelerated by VCs who urged their portfolio companies to move their accounts. This became a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy and it was contagious: depositors and VCs were hearing about others withdrawing, so they started to question their own safety and did so too (often with little diligence).
By Thursday, customers tried to withdraw $42 billion - nearly a quarter of the bank’s total deposits. The FDIC took over the bank by midday on Friday.
The ramifications were broader than just the tech community.
A large number of education companies were impacted and potentially unable to make payroll this week if the Feds hadn't intervened. That could have disrupted curriculum, tutoring, and other services to schools.
SVB's clients also included nonprofits and charter schools. The inability to access funds could have impacted more than 15 percent of Massachusetts public charter schools, disrupting the education for more than 9,247 public school students. Some CA charters also banked with SVB.
Telehealth companies were worried they wouldn't be able to make payroll for doctors and therapists.
There are at least 26 public pension funds (managing money for ~80 pension plans) who directly held stock in SVB Financial Group.
The FDIC and Treasury tried to find a buyer over the weekend. There was one reported bid but it was rejected (unclear who the bank was or why they were rejected).
The Treasury Department, Federal Reserve, and FDIC announced they would invoke a "systemic risk exception" which enables the use of the FDIC's Deposit Insurance Fund to safeguard the funds of SVB account holders with more than $250,000, ensuring depositors would be made whole. The Federal Reserve also announced it will support bank liquidity by lending against eligible collateral.
The Feds also had their own share of communication challenges over the weekend, including a clumsy briefing with Congress last evening.
Even with the emergency measures, regional bank stocks saw significant declines on Monday, with First Republic Bank falling 60%, Western Alliance down 45%, KeyCorp and Comerica both down 30%, and Zions Bancorp down 25%. Trading was halted on a dozen banks.
The immediate crisis has been averted for now but the FDIC still needs to find a buyer (they may try a second auction tomorrow). And it’s still unclear how much more flight there will be from regional banks to the “too big to fail” institutions.
FBI: Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) suggested one-on-one basketball to decide which state gets the new FBI headquarters.
What if the Next Pandemic Happens Tomorrow?: The NYT with a for/against debate around:
Should schools close?
Should there be a mask mandate?
Should there be an international travel ban?
If a safe and effective vaccine becomes available, should it be mandated?
The Winter COVID Wave That Wasn't: Why the US didn't see a surge.
"Experts told ABC News that a combination of more immunity, better treatments, less severe infections and more people following mitigation measures likely played a role."
"Weekly deaths peaked at 4,448 the week of Jan. 11, 2023 -- five times lower than the peak during the first winter wave and nearly four times lower than the peak during the second wave."
America Shut Down in Response to Covid. Would We Ever Do It Again?: Via the Washington Post.
"The administration’s top doctors ultimately persuaded President Donald Trump to issue a national public health order, a stay-at-home guideline titled “15 Days to Slow the Spread,” effective March 16. The doctors knew a mere 15 days of social distancing and other precautions would not be enough to bring the contagion under control. But that’s all they thought they could sell to Trump and his aides."
"The pandemic schooled everyone. It taught many office workers how to function remotely. It taught restaurateurs how to turn sidewalks into dining spaces. It taught the CDC how critically important it is to communicate clearly with the public — and the consequences of failing to do so."
If We Knew Then What We Know Now About Covid, What Would We Have Done Differently?: Via the WSJ.
Virginia: Gov. Youngkin announced that some Virginia families would soon be able to apply for grants to use on tutoring for K-12 students as part of that $30 million investment.
"To apply for the grant, students must live in households with an income of more than 300% of the federal poverty level. For example, $59,160 for two people, $74,580 for three people, and $90,000 for four people can receive a $3,000 grant. All other qualifying students can get $1,500."
Jobs Report: The U.S. economy adds 311,000 jobs in February.
Women in the Workforce: The number of women in the workforce was higher than pre-pandemic levels for the first time.
Your Strategy Is Only as Good as Your Skills: Via BCG.
Evidence for Social and Emotional Learning in Schools: Via LPI.
Khan World School at ASU Prep Accelerates Expansion: "Building on its successful pilot of a unique honors program for ninth graders, ASU Preparatory Academy is expanding enrollment for Khan World School at ASU Prep (KWS) to all middle and high school students for the 2023-24 school year."
England Tutor Scheme Closing Tuition Gap Between Rich and Poor: Research by the Sutton Trust found that 32% of children in the worst-off households reported taking up extra tuition in school, compared with 22% in the most well-off families.
Enrollment Hurdles Limit Uptake for FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program
"This process can take 30-45 minutes if everything goes right, and sometimes much longer if applicants run into problems with documentation or other issues; approval is often not immediate. Forty-five percent of applicants are rejected. Additionally, many abandon their applications before submitting them."
Ballooning Teacher Pension Debt Could Hinder Spending in Areas Like Retention: K-12 state spending on retirement costs ballooned by at least 123% between 2001 and 2021, an increase driven mainly by growing pension debt, according to a report released by Equable Institute
"In 2001, only 17% of retirement costs serviced pension debt. But in 2021, that share had jumped to 69%, a 414% increase. That’s because unfunded liabilities for teacher pension plans — or money that should be in teacher retirement systems, but isn’t — has increased over the last two decades. What was an $86.32 billion shortfall in 2001 for teacher and public school employee retirement systems grew nearly tenfold to $816.71 billion in 2022."
"Retirement systems for teachers are assuming their payroll grows at 2.9% over the next decade, and whether using that rate or a more conservative 2% payroll growth level, projected pension debt payment between 2020 and 2030 are between $605b and $635b."
FiveThirtyEight Pollster Ratings: Are out.
Nate Silver: "I guess there's not really a nice way to put this, but a lot of people aren't interested in accuracy and just want narratives and vibes."
"Of all the polls evaluated this cycle, Echelon was rated as top five in terms of “average error” of all polls FiveThirtyEight evaluated with fresh polling in the 2021-2022 election cycle." Congrats Kristen!
He Was A Prophet For What Was To Come: The 6th anniversary of Robert Kelly's iconic BBC appearance.
Dogs Ask: What’s this sorcery?