When and how should we open schools?

missing

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The Nation has a column that pretty much lists all the problems with opening schools and the all the problems with not opening the schools and all the problems with half opening the schools.

But my first job is to keep my children safe. Sending them to a physical building with a bunch of other people doesn’t feel safe right now. When I last saw my 7-year-old’s class back in March, the kids were trampling each other to get in line for recess. Now I’m supposed to believe they will wait patiently six feet apart for an entire day? Have you met children? “Socially distant school” is one of those phrases, like “clean coal” or “compassionate conservative,” that names a thing that does not exist...

And what happens when someone inevitably gets sick? You can read reams of plans and proposals for reopening schools, but you don’t see plans for when a child or teacher contracts the disease. Will the schools be closed? For how long? You don’t see plans for easy access to testing. You don’t see reporting guidelines for confirmed cases, or transparency guidelines for informing the school community when someone comes down with the illness. Do we really think parents are going to want to send their kids back to school when their kid’s teacher has *********-19? Or is the plan simply to not tell the parents that the teacher got sick?
 

MacMadame

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So this is how the YMCA was able to do daycare without having any outbreaks. Note: that doesn't mean some of the kids / teachers got sick, just that it didn't cause an outbreak.


Some of the stuff wouldn't work for school kids but some would.

ETA not sure if parents will find this helpful:

 
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skatfan

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The largest high school district in the county just announced fall classes will be in person, five days a week, and all teachers and students to wear masks at all times on campus and to be social distancing. For parents who do not wish their students to return to in person classes, the school district will offer independent study programs.

Clovis, right? It’s absurd.
 

MsZem

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Time Magazine asks if universities will be the next CV19 tinderbox.

Some universities are hoping that a pre-semester quarantine period, an honor code that encourages students to self-report symptoms and adopt masks and distancing, and campus-wide contact tracing will help avert catastrophe. But a recent study led by Dr Sherry Pagoto at the University of Connecticut—a survey of 2,698 students who will be returning to campus in a few weeks, and in-depth interviews with a further 35 students—suggests that many obstacles lie ahead, especially if students are not meaningfully engaged in the reopening planning process. (Dr Pagoto has shared the initial findings on social media.)

Every student said quarantine is not realistic and will fail. They also said that if they develop mild *********-19 symptoms, they may not report them. If they become infected, they’d be reluctant to tell the university about their contacts, especially those at bars. They were pessimistic about the safety of social events, suggesting mask use would not be universal. The fact that 117 students at University of Washington fraternities have tested positive since late June suggests that such fears are well founded. The overarching message seems to be that just telling students not to do things and leaving it at that is not a reliable policy.
There's a link to Dr. Pagoto's tweets, but the full thread in which she discussed key findings from the research can be more easily read here:
They identified not just things that are unlikely to work, but also various steps that can be taken to increase compliance. These will not surprise anyone familiar with research on social influence and nudging... I'd like to see more reliance on social psychology and behavioral economics insights. There's a lot of relevant knowledge that can and should be used to encourage people to act responsibly as we go through this.

(I'm pretty sure Dan Ariely was or is advising the Israeli authorities, but they don't seem to have listened)
 

Prancer

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There's a link to Dr. Pagoto's tweets, but the full thread in which she discussed key findings from the research can be more easily read here:
They identified not just things that are unlikely to work, but also various steps that can be taken to increase compliance. These will not surprise anyone familiar with research on social influence and nudging... I'd like to see more reliance on social psychology and behavioral economics insights. There's a lot of relevant knowledge that can and should be used to encourage people to act responsibly as we go through this.

(I'm pretty sure Dan Ariely was or is advising the Israeli authorities, but they don't seem to have listened)

I am always surprised that more schools don't ask students what they think. They don't always understand the limitations and requirements the school has to deal with, but they have a lot of experience at being students and often have very good ideas for how to make things work from that perspective. If you want people to cooperate, making them part of the solution nearly always helps. So does giving them open, honest information.
 

ballettmaus

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So this is how the YMCA was able to do daycare without having any outbreaks. Note: that doesn't mean some of the kids / teachers got sick, just that it didn't cause an outbreak.

I think this is reassuring as parents were able to send their children somewhere while they had to work and knew they were cared for and kept as safe as possible.
On the other hand, it doesn't sound ideal for the children. I don't know how else to describe it but sort of like a place where parents could drop of kids and they were kept until the parents picked them up again and nothing more. But maybe this is what it's normally like in the US and it only seems restrictive and limiting to me because I'm used to something very different from Germany? (You'd be hard-pressed to find all children sitting at the table, drawing/coloring at the same time in Germany, for example. They choose what they want to do when they want to do it, even the little ones).

The teacher/child ratio is pretty good though and the cleaning that they did sounds excellent!


ETA not sure if parents will find this helpful:

I wish they had given a time frame. If the data is from when the SIP orders were in place then transmission rates would likely have been lower, wouldn't they? Exposure was limited and daily cases were much, much less than they are now.
 

SkateSand

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Clovis, right? It’s absurd.

In this county, the Shasta Union High School District is the largest, which includes five high schools. It may all be moot, though, as I believe I read that the governor is going to make an announcement about schools reopening or not tomorrow. I think the state can overrule local districts, but I'm not sure. We'll see!
 

Theatregirl1122

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In this county, the Shasta Union High School District is the largest, which includes five high schools. It may all be moot, though, as I believe I read that the governor is going to make an announcement about schools reopening or not tomorrow. I think the state can overrule local districts, but I'm not sure. We'll see!

Yes, the state can.
 

MacMadame

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The way CA has been doing it up until now is:

1) The state makes a mandate
2) Counties can be stricter than that without issue
3) If counties want to be looser, they need permission (they apply for a variance)

School districts are different as they are a parallel governance structure. So the school district may be in a city or a county, but they report to the State.

I am going to assume it will work the same way.

Also, the state has already issued guidelines to schools and many of the school districts who are going 100% online are doing that based on the guidance that they are currently getting. We'll see if this new guidance is wildly different but I suspect it won't be.
 

clairecloutier

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The NY Times had an article last night about how some private schools are reopening in places where public schools are not. Basically it’s because they in some cases already have more staff per kid than public schools, so smaller class sizes are achievable. Plus, they have more money to throw at the problem, and non-unionized teaching staffs in many cases.

 

Vagabond

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I have some questions for those of you with school-aged children. How good are they at washing their hands for 20 seconds when they come home? Do they always wash their face too? How good are they at social distancing and wearing masks?

When I go out on walks, I see adolescents going around together with no social distancing, often without masks. I think the chances of getting them -- and even younger children -- to comply with guidelines are poor. But perhaps someone with children at home has a different perspective.
 

sk8nlizard

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I have some questions for those of you with school-aged children. How good are they at washing their hands for 20 seconds when they come home? Do they always wash their face too? How good are they at social distancing and wearing masks?

When I go out on walks, I see adolescents going around together with no social distancing, often without masks. I think the chances of getting them -- and even younger children -- to comply with guidelines are poor. But perhaps someone with children at home has a different perspective.
I have a 7 and 9 year old. They aren’t great about remembering to wash their hands but when I remind them they wash them well. None of us wash our faces when we come inside so I couldn’t respond there. As far as masks my kids pretty much wear them and wear them correctly without complaint. They are decent at social distancing but not great. This is probably what they struggle with the most. We haven’t decided what we are doing as far as school is concerned but I have a feeling our district will end up doing full distance learning. The county next to us (Dallas county) just delayed school opening in person so I imagine we aren’t far behind. I had every intention of sending my kids to school (even though I’m high risk) until the past few weeks. Now I am just waiting until the district releases more info. But as far as mask wearing and hand washing my kids are pretty good. They also don’t put their hands near their faces too much (I really harp on this). I feel like because I never complained about the masks and never gave them a choice whether to wear them or not my kids just wore them without complaint, like it was second nature.
 

Theatregirl1122

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I don’t know if parents here are looking for advice. If you aren’t (I know advice from non-parents can be very irritating), feel free to ignore this entirely. I know many people won’t have a choice either because they have no child care option other than school or because the district is going 100% distance.

If you do have a choice, my advice would be to wait and see what your district is putting out as a plan both for distance learning and in person/hybrid. Some states may tell schools that they have to let students do distance learning if they don’t feel safe coming to school but also that they don’t really have to provide them much in terms of educational materials if the parents are choosing distance learning. Many states may say social distancing is required but not specify a distance so classrooms are still pretty crowded. Some states are not making masks mandatory. So I would keep an eye on your particular plan and judge based on that. Also keep an eye on the situation in your state. The choice is very different in Maine vs. Florida.

Also, I would be prepared that, whatever you choose, students may end up distance learning for a significant portion of the year either way depending on what happens to rates across the country/world.

And, whatever plan you choose/your district comes up with, be prepared to sell it hard to your kids. As teachers and parents/caregivers, we have our own anxieties, but we don’t want to pass them on to our kids. Obviously you have a different conversation with an older child than a younger child, but one of the best things you can do for your kids is to help them feel confident. Let them tell you what their worries are and talk them through, but try if at all possible (and I know it’s super hard because kids are way too smart and they notice so much) not to project anxiety to them. I’m going to be doing the same thing as a teacher. I want to hear your concerns, but I also want you to know that I am excited that we are learning and making the best of this.

I would also start having your kids practice wearing masks for long periods of time now. I think a lot of people are thinking of this for smaller children and not for older children. Even middle and high school children should practice wearing masks all day. Heck, I’m going to practice.

Finally, for those if you who have to make this call: I’m sorry. I feel like no one actually wants to have to make this choice. The fact that parents are being asked to make a decision here is genuinely a huge point of stress for people in a way that I think would be easier if the choice was just made. I don’t have the answers, but thank goodness we have FSU to discuss and vent! I’m around if anyone wants advice on particular plans.
 

clairecloutier

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Thanks for the insights @Theatregirl1122.

A Boston-area parent wrote about the angst of having to choose which learning model her son will pursue this year (remote, hybrid, in-person):



Meanwhile, our school district sent out a letter stating that their goal is still to do as much in-person learning as possible. The Mass state department of education has determined that 3 feet of distance between desks is okay (not 6 feet). Back in June, the state said they would cap class/group sizes at 10 kids. However, that guidance has changed. Now, there is no maximum on class sizes, as long as the 3-feet-between-desks rule is met.

I am not much reassured by this memo, which also states: "It is important to note that the American
Academy of Pediatrics has affirmed that children, particularly younger children, are less likely than adults
to be infected with *********-19. Furthermore, if they become infected, it appears children may not have
the same transmission potential as adults." With all that we've heard lately about CV19 spread in Israeli schools and American summer camps and Y programs, I just wonder about this.

A week ago, I was prepared to send the kids back to school, if school reopened. Now, I am sitting here wondering as to the best course of action.
 

MacMadame

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The CA daily briefing is about school today. Some points:

Non-negotiable:
  • learning must take place (I think this was to say: no half-assing distance learning this time around)
  • must be safe - based on local conditions - not just the kids but the teachers and the staff
1) Physical teaching
In-person teaching is preferred

Can do this if the county is off the monitoring list for 14 consecutive days. If a county doesn't meet this, must do distance learning.

Criteria to close in-person classes:
-Classroom cohort goes home when there is a confirmed case in the cohort
-School goes home when multiple cohorts have cases or more than 5% of the school is positive
-District goes home if 25% of their schools are closed within a 14 day period.

2) Mask requirements
All school staff and students in 3rd grade and above MUST wear masks. 2nd grade + below are encouraged to wear masks or face shields (face shields for teachers seem to scare kids less so they changed the mask requirement to include them as a choice)

3) Physical distancing + other adaptations
-Staff: 6 ft between each other and students.
-Day begins with symptom checks
-Hand-washing stations
-Sanitation & disinfection
-Quarantine protocols

4) Regular testing & contact tracing
-Test staff regularly.
-Contact tracers will prioritize schools

5) Rigorous distance learning
-Access to devices & connectivity for all kids
-Daily live interaction with teachers and other students
-Challenging assignments equivalent to in-person classes
-Adapted lessons for English language learners & special ed students

3.3 billion dollars additional funding for schools with priority on equity - it's also available for PPE purchases not just buying equipment to close equity gap
100 millions of face masks, hand sanitizer, etc. 2 months worth. Including little masks for the little ones!

ETA after doing the daily stats he said:
If your priority is to get kids back in schools, then wear a mask! Also physical distancing, hand-washing, and avoid mixing with other households.

ETA again -- Press asked about parents whose kids will be home all the time. He didn't really answer this. Just reiterated that we want to be in-person but it also has to be safe for the kids and the staff. They are going to find ways to support caregivers, parents, and small business owners who are impacted by kids doing distance learning.
 
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once_upon

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My grandson that lives in Iowa school district has an online curriculum plan that on paper seems to be good. The kids would get a Chromebook, access to internet (by several means if not already available in the home), weekly flash drives with additional help/assignments and other resources. I asked his mom if she knew if classroom schools closed the kids would have access to the same materials/resources. I dont think she was going to pursue it. Then Reynolds said kids needed to spend at least one day or maybe 50% of their school time in classroom. I dont think she was very clear on that. In talking to the step grandma, it appears grandson will go to classroom education.

My oldest son's kids school district said 100% classroom unless they have documented medical conditions or immediate family member has medical conditions that puts them at risk.

I'm still upset about youngest granddaughter being forced back to daycare because dil's boss said back to office for all her employees, even though the vast majority of employees are still WFH.

I feel we are going to expose huge numbers of people, just to shut down everything again.
 

ballettmaus

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Meanwhile, our school district sent out a letter stating that their goal is still to do as much in-person learning as possible.

Funny, the German school in DC sent out a similar letter today. (They also mention that what they're planning worked well in Germany. Yeah, well, the numbers are kind of different in Germany, the students don't include kids from diplomats who think the rules don't apply to them and get away with it and the majority of schools, if not all, don't have A/C but windows. But other than that, the situation is totally the same).


The Mass state department of education has determined that 3 feet of distance between desks is okay (not 6 feet).

:wideeyes:


Back in June, the state said they would cap class/group sizes at 10 kids. However, that guidance has changed. Now, there is no maximum on class sizes, as long as the 3-feet-between-desks rule is met.

I guess they realized that they don't have the capacity to open up otherwise.

Montgomery County increased the child/teacher ratio for childcare. I'm pretty sure that's for the same reason.
 

MacMadame

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On the news after the Governor's press briefing, they said the order applied to private schools too. That wasn't clear to me. I wonder what will happen if a private school wants to open anyway and is able to convince parents they can keep everyone safe?
 

CantALoop

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What is Hawaii doing?
Before letting individual schools decide whether they would be remote learning, in-person, or a hybrid of the two, there was a huge drama when the state superintendent claimed that students could actually be spaced 3 feet apart as long as students faced forward and all in-person classes could resume. :duh: This sparked an outcry from the teachers' union, and the superintendent and the state Dept. of Education walked back the 3' apart idea.

For my friends who teach K-12, pretty much all of them are concerned about having a safe work environment. It seems promising that schools are being allowed to decide on their mode of instruction based on what resources they and their students have. Students who don't feel safe can stay at home, but students without resources for distance learning can still come to school.

For the University of Hawai`i, they're pretty much stalling and watching what other universities are doing. They still expect to hold in-person classes for studio/lab classes that aren't suited for online instruction, and have put all classes exceeding 50 students online. One big problem is housing for students outside of Hawai`i - the dorms will not have double occupancy bedrooms so it leaves the university with 1,000 fewer beds than normal.


(Hawaii had 29 cases today. If there is a state that looks like it may have managed to plateau after reopening with case numbers low enough to reopen schools, I would guess that Hawaii is it. There's a comment in this article that says outdoor learning is being discussed as an option in Hawaii as well, and of course, Hawaii has the climate to make that a much more feasible option than a lot of states. The big question mark for Hawaii is tourists. The state pushed back the timeline on them another month, but letting in tourists would/will/could potentially change the state's status regarding the ***** & therefore, schools).

Outdoor learning is a cute idea but realistically, who's going to lecture outdoors 5-6 hours a day, 5 days a week in >90°F? weather? Before this, teachers AND students were demanding air conditioning for classrooms.

Tourism is a big question, but unlike Las Vegas, most people in Hawai`i aren't eager to rush back. Over a third of the island is unemployed, including my partner, who works in the hotel industry. Most non-management workers in the hotel industry don't want to return to work unless they can assured that they will be given PPE and other safety precautions to keep themselves reasonably safe. The mayors of all four major islands asked the governor to delay reopening on Aug 1st (which he did walk back to Sep 1st). Most residents are very concerned about tourists (especially from high-risk) states flouting the 14-day quarantine and causing a bigger second spike. This anxiety has been worsened especially when many of the quarantine-breakers are identified as coming from high-risk states.
 
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Dobre

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The mayors of all four major islands asked the governor to delay reopening on Aug 1st (which he did walk back to Sep 1st).

Yes, this is why I mentioned the tourism issue in this schools thread. Because if tourists do return September 1st and schools do reconvene around the same time, they will coincide. There would be no time to first see the impact of tourism prior to opening schools. OTOH, the date for reintroducing tourism could be pushed back again. (And schools might be a good reason for doing so).

Outdoor learning is a cute idea but realistically, who's going to lecture outdoors 5-6 hours a day, 5 days a week in >90°F? weather?

A challenge. Though we've heard that a lot of the classes in some of the European countries that opened in late spring were outside.

If we had an amenable climate for outdoor learning where I live, I think I would advertise to tutor (on an hourly basis) this coming year. There are a lot of families likely to be doing distance learning, a lot of parents who could probably use some expert help & whom I feel for, and a lot of out-of-work substitute teachers + potentially out-of-work specialists that are not-so-likely to return to classrooms. Tutoring face-to-face in an outdoor environment for @$20.00 an hour could be beneficial to kids, parents, and educators not returning to classrooms. And with only one or two kids, one could have a fairly controlled environment + kids:):):). However, doing so indoors would be a much higher risk. By November, places like California & Florida may be benefiting while winter weather states face a tougher scenario.
 
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CantALoop

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I'm not holding my breath on tourism. Gov. Ige proposed a program where people could bypass quarantine if they have a negative test within 72 hours of departure and testing programs for arrivals, but the national spike is causing a shortage of said supplies. Tourism likely won't resume until the nation gets it sh*t together.

I'm calling it now - as soon as we get our first cluster linked to a school or university classroom, all schools and universities in Hawai`i will go fully online, regardless of tourism or if there's a local spike in cases or not.
 

Theatregirl1122

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I’d keep an eye on what the real language is in state requirements for student distancing. I have a feeling a lot of them will turn out to have been “goals” or “approximate” or “recommend.” I know my state’s actually are.
 

ballettmaus

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A challenge. Though we've heard that a lot of the classes in some of the European countries that opened in late spring were outside.

Depending on your preference, weather conditions tend to still be on the cooler side in many European countries in late spring. (60s for the most part, maybe low 70s).

I wonder what will happen in many European countries come fall. It's not a school but right now, the preschool/kindergarten my mom used to work at basically moved all activity outside. Unless it's raining, the kids have breakfast outside, then are at their assigned playground (they are kept apart according to their groups) then they go into the nearby forest (since there's a rotation for the playground) until lunchtime. It will be hard to keep that up once the weather starts to turn.
 

sk8nlizard

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Yes, this is why I mentioned the tourism issue in this schools thread. Because if tourists do return September 1st and schools do reconvene around the same time, they will coincide. There would be no time to first see the impact of tourism prior to opening schools. OTOH, the date for reintroducing tourism could be pushed back again. (And schools might be a good reason for doing so).



A challenge. Though we've heard that a lot of the classes in some of the European countries that opened in late spring were outside.

If we had an amenable climate for outdoor learning where I live, I think I would advertise to tutor (on an hourly basis) this coming year. There are a lot of families likely to be doing distance learning, a lot of parents who could probably use some expert help & whom I feel for, and a lot of out-of-work substitute teachers + potentially out-of-work specialists that are not-so-likely to return to classrooms. Tutoring face-to-face in an outdoor environment for @$20.00 an hour could be beneficial to kids, parents, and educators not returning to classrooms. And with only one or two kids, one could have a fairly controlled environment + kids:):):). However, doing so indoors would be a much higher risk. By November, places like California & Florida may be benefiting while winter weather states face a tougher scenario.
If you have a teaching background you could charge way more than $20. My kid’s first grade teacher tutored my youngest the summer before Kindy and I paid $45/hour. When we moved to a new state same kid had a tutor that is a 2nd grade teacher at her school I paid $40/hr.
 

jeffisjeff

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I’d keep an eye on what the real language is in state requirements for student distancing. I have a feeling a lot of them will turn out to have been “goals” or “approximate” or “recommend.” I know my state’s actually are.

My university's policies are full of "when possible." It is infuriating!
 

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