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Covid-19 Policy Update #641
FDA Authorizes Pfizer Bivalent COVID Booster for Kids 6 Months Through Age 4: In amending the EUA, the FDA said the booster can be given at least 2 months after children have completed the three-dose series of the single-strain vaccine.
"In a press release, Peter Marks, MD, PhD, who directs the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said, "Currently available data show that vaccination remains the best defense against severe disease, hospitalization, and death caused by COVID-19 across all age groups, and we encourage all eligible individuals to make sure that their vaccinations are up to date with a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine."
LAUSD Teacher Strike: "Massive three-day LAUSD teacher and staff strike set for Tuesday, closing all schools."
"L.A. schools Supt. Alberto Carvalho on Wednesday urged union leadership to negotiate “around the clock” to avert the strike, which he said would further harm more than 420,000 students trying to recover academically and emotionally from the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced them into remote learning for more than year."
"The anticipated walkout of as many as 65,000 workers would represent the largest and longest full disruption of education in the nation’s second-largest school system since the six-day teachers’ strike of 2019. Not even pandemic campus closures, which lasted more than a year in Los Angeles, resulted in a complete halt to academic instruction."
Why Alabama and West Virginia Suddenly Have Amazing High-School Graduation Rates: Via the Washington Post.
"So in 2008, at the tail end of the George W. Bush administration, an update to Bush’s signature No Child Left Behind initiative required states to follow a consistent process for measuring and reporting graduation rates and set ambitious targets for improving them over time."
"Unlike the school-based testing requirements that initially formed the controversial backbone of No Child Left Behind, the new focus on graduation appears to have worked. The once-stagnant graduation rate rose substantially over the following decade."
"West Virginia and Alabama were some of the earliest, most enthusiastic and most persistent adopters of graduation-rate targeting, said Robert Balfanz, director of the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University."
"The test-negative study, led by researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) VISION Network, included 82,229 adult emergency department (ED) or urgent care (UC) visits and 21,007 hospitalizations for COVID-19 in 10 states from December 16, 2021, to August 20, 2022."
"Relative to no vaccination, two-dose VE against hospitalization was estimated at 25% at 150 days or more after receipt. Third-dose VE was 68% at 7 to 119 days and 36% thereafter (median days, 235). Fourth-dose VE among patients aged 65 years or older was 66% at 7 to 59 days and 57% thereafter (median days, 88)."
"Intensive care unit admission or death occurred in 21.4% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients during the BA.1 period and 14.7% during BA.4 and BA.5."
Paxlovid 80% Effective Against Severe COVID When Taken in First 5 Days: "The antiviral drug combination nirmatrelvir–ritonavir (Paxlovid) was estimated to be 54% effective against SARS-CoV-2 Omicron BA.2, BA.4, and BA.5 hospitalization or death but was 80% when taken within 5 days of symptom onset, according to an observational study."
FDA Says Paxlovid Not Linked With COVID Rebound: Axios reports.
Did Years of Masks Impact Hong Kong Kids’ Learning?: Via Bloomberg.
"Local health department data show that the number of kids under age 12 who’ve been newly diagnosed with speech problems and language delays or disorders surged 26% — to just above 5,400 — in 2021, versus 2019, the pre-pandemic level."
"Still, it’s too early to make a definitive conclusion on whether wearing masks affects speech development and the use of language. Anthony Kong, an HKU associate professor specializing in human communication and development, said scientific findings on the impact have been mixed so far."
What Do We Actually Know About Covid-19? Not Enough: Via WSJ.
"The Covid-19 virus hasn’t fallen into a similar seasonal pattern, according to virologists, and its mutations have repeatedly surprised researchers. “Does SARS-CoV-2 change more rapidly than the flu? About the same? Or much slower?” said Peter Palese, a microbiologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. “We still don’t have a precise answer.”
"How the virus evolves depends on the scale of its spread, as well the interplay between immune defenses and mutations that variants use to escape them. Researchers are getting better at predicting how the virus might mutate as it spreads. Yet each new infected person gives the virus another opportunity to change and better evade the body’s defenses.
"While high school graduation rates have increased from the previous school year, the report estimates that only 8% of ninth graders will complete a postsecondary degree within six years of leaving high school, down from 14% pre-pandemic."
"Chronic absenteeism, or the rate of students absent for 10% or more of the year, rose to 48% last school year, up from 29% three years ago."
"Hiring of new teachers also lagged; the fall 2021 vacancy rate was 6%, three times higher than in the fall of 2018. But 74% of teachers stayed in their jobs last year, up from 70% pre-pandemic."
Ohio: "Already under fire for high pay despite big investment losses, the pension system for Ohio’s retired teachers lost between $27 million and $40 million when Silicon Valley Bank failed last weekend. That appears to be by far the biggest investment by a public pension system in the United States."
Massachusetts: COVID public health emergency, vaccine mandate to end on May 11.
Rhode Island: Central Falls, where nearly half of students are English learners, offers 2 extra hours of language instruction daily. That adds up to roughly 50 days.
"In a long-anticipated move, the Texas Education Agency will take control of the Houston Independent School District — the largest state school system takeover in recent history — Commissioner Mike Morath announced Wednesday. The move ends a five-year stalemate between Morath and the district’s leadership, which fought the takeover in court."
"At the Dallas ISD board of trustees briefing last week, Chief Academic Officer Shannon Trejo walked the board through some preliminary data that indicates that offering three potential calendars—a standard calendar, an intersession calendar, and a school-day redesign calendar—may have helped some students retain more of what they learned. However, the gains were less than what trustees expected."
Inflation: Inflation rose in February but was in line with expectations. CPI increased 0.4% for the month, putting the annual inflation rate at 6%, the Labor Department reported Tuesday.
But Jason Furman is still concerned: “Inflation is still way too high and no sign of falling.”
More Students Are Turning Away From College and Toward Apprenticeships: Via the WSJ.
"Today, colleges and universities enroll about 15 million undergraduate students, while companies employ about 800,000 apprentices. In the past decade, college enrollment has declined by about 15%, while the number of apprentices has increased by more than 50%."
The majority of Black parents feel like they are more involved in their child’s education as a result of the remote-learning that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Black parents are more likely to say the pandemic has had a positive effect on their perceptions of their school district rather than a negative effect.
At least 40 percent of Black parents believe a focus on mental health, hybrid/remote learning options, and increased technology use were important changes/lessons learned during the pandemic that should continue.
Only one-fourth of Black parents believe education should stay the same as it is today. Of the two-thirds that believe it should change, most believe it should go in a different direction.
Ronald Reagan Foundation and Institute Announces David Trulio as President and CEO: Congrats Dave!
Governors’ Top Education Priorities in 2023 State of the State Addresses: Via ECS.
KaiPod Catalyst: Starts accelerator for entrepreneurial educators to launch their own microschools with 17 founders from 13 states.
AI: So many announcements and new launches this week. I've been playing with GPT-4 for a few days and it’s pretty incredible.
New capabilities such as accepting images as inputs and generating captions, classifications, and analyses. It's also capable of handling over 25,000 words of text for inputs.
OpenAI says GPT-4 is 82% less likely than GPT-3.5 to respond when asked for content its rules don't allow — and 40% more likely to produce factual responses.
GPT-4 can turn your napkin sketch into a web app, instantly.
It's crazy how fast AI is evolving. GPT-4 can pass the bar exam with a top 10% score. GPT-3.5 failed the bar exam with a bottom 10% score.
Microsoft launched 365 Copilot – your copilot for work.
Google announced a laundry list of new generative AI capabilities and features for developers, through a PaLM API and in Google Cloud, as well as new integrations for users of Google Workspace, including in Gmail and Google Docs.
And MidJourney launched version 5. Hands are mostly fixed! And the quality is amazing - much more photorealistic images. [my prompt: Editorial Style Photo, Eye Level, Modern, Living Room, Fireplace, Leather and Wood, Built-in Shelves, Bernese Mountain Dog. Neutral with pops of blue, West Elm, Natural Light, New York City, Afternoon, Cozy, Art Deco --ar 16:9 --v 5]
PI Day: Happy Pi Day to all that celebrate.
Via NASA: "How Many Decimals of Pi Do We Really Need?"
Happy St. Patrick's Day: The Chicago River runs green once again.