On August 10, Chicago teachers rolled into City Hall in hundreds of cars. The teachers spent hours protesting the desire for school teachers to work from home. Supporting Chicago Public Schools’ plan to mix in school and at home learning this fall to reduce school crowding in buildings.
School Teachers Work From Home Only
Staff didn’t feel safe, the educators said. Rising rates of positive COVID-19 cases are already happening in Illinois. Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that the near 400,000 students in Chicago. Would start the year having school teachers work from home. With online only teaching, beginning September 8. Remote education jobs have increased steadily.
Among the largest districts, New York City is planning some in person instruction. Some of it’s United Federation of Teachers are fighting the decision.
According to data traced by Education Week Magazine, as of early August, 17. 20 of the country’s largest school districts, totaling more than 4 million students. Plan to start the school year with remote learning having school teachers work from home until conditions improve.
Coronavirus Positivity Rates
Surgeon General Jerome Adams said in July that communities should have coronavirus positivity rates under 10% before re-opening schools. He also said that there’s no hard cut off amount. Which can be confusing once school opens up. This was during an interview with CBS’ Face The Nation.
Kentucky’s coronavirus positivity rates have recently reached almost 5.9%. The states teachers union said last week that in person instruction would be unsafe until the rate fell below 4%.
Unions in states with higher rates, like Tennessee and Utah, have pled with their governors to delay or abandon in person instruction.
The nations second largest teachers union, the American Federation of Teachers, took the unusual steps of authorizing locals to strike if districts couldn’t ensure necessary precautions for re-opening in person. Including, face masks, frequent hand-washing, social distancing, regularly disinfecting surfaces and keeping students in the same cohort as they learn. This was recommended by the CDC.
Susie Lebo, a teacher at Avon High School and President of the local teachers union, outside of Indianapolis, says she wishes that she and her colleagues would have fought harder against the districts plan for reopening in person. On July 29, the district welcomed all students back. In just two short weeks, multiple teachers and students tested positive for coronavirus. Hundreds of students were quarantined as a result.
338,000 Children Infected With The Coronavirus In The U.S.
A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, shows that at least 97,000 children in the US tested positive for COVID-19 in the last two weeks of July. More than 338,000 children in the US have been infected since the pandemic began.
President Donald Trump has put pressure on America’s schools to reopen for in person instruction and threatened to withhold federal aid for those that didn’t, even though COVID-19 cases have been on the rise this summer.
Last month, the American Academy of Pediatrics stressed the importance of returning kids to the classroom, noting the physical, social and emotional cost of staying home. Then, the group clarified its stance, stressing that reopening must be done safely, following local health experts advice.
Trump softened his stance somewhat on Wednesday with the release of recommendations stressing a safe reopening of schools, reiterating advice from the CDC. He also said the government would send up to 125 million reusable masks to schools.
Indiana’s state teachers union is protesting the governors threat to withhold state aid for the schools that don’t reopen classes this fall.
Most Schools Will Operate With A Hybrid Model
Jessie Sharkey, President of the Chicago Teacher’s Union, said that Chicago is scheduled to offer remote instruction through the first quarter, which will end November 8. After that, the district is planning for most students to implement a hybrid model of two days in person instruction and three days of remote learning.
The new president of the National Education Association, Becky Pringle, represents 3 million members. She says that it’s not safe to go back to school if infection rates haven’t gone down in a region, or if schools haven’t made a plan to isolate educators and students who contract COVID-19.
Los Angeles was one of the first districts to announce that it would start the year virtually. Union and district officials agreed to a deal that requires teachers to teach via live video every day. Students attendance will be taken for each class. Grading policies are still being negotiated. Teachers will start August 17 with three days of collaboration and planning with staff. Students and teachers will reunite virtually on August 20.
Some Schools Opened With In Person Instruction Have Already Closed
Schools in several states have already resumed in person instruction, including Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, Indiana and Tennessee. Many of the schools that reopened have already closed after reporting outbreaks of COVID-19. One county in Georgia resumed classes on August 3, now over 900 students and staff have quarantined after potential exposure. Remote education jobs have increased.
According to health experts, New York might be one of the few places in the country that can reopen schools safely. During a news conference on August 7, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo gave all districts the green-light to reopen in the fall. As of last week, fewer than 1% of coronavirus tests in the state were positive. Many students will not return to school full-time. Due to social distancing recommendations by the CDC, they will be offered a hybrid of in person and remote learning. Under this plan, no more than 12 people will be present at a time.
Infection rates continue to soar across the country, hundreds of districts plan to start the year remotely. On July 17, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom announced 33 of the 58 counties are on a watchlist. This is determined by rate of infection, positive testing and hospitalization. Schools in those areas will teach remotely until conditions improve.
Pandemic Is Not Under Control
Los Angeles and San Diego will continue remote only instruction. Increasing work at home opportunities for teachers. In a joint statement, those districts said the countries that managed to safely reopen schools have done so with declining infection rates and testing available on demand. California doesn’t have either. Skyrocketing infection rates over the past few weeks have made it clear that the pandemic is not under control.
When schools resume in person classes, things will look a lot different. In May, the CDC set guidelines for schools reopening. Desks will be spaced 6 feet apart. Students will eat lunch at their desks, not the cafeteria. Playgrounds will be closed. All students and staff members should wear cloth masks throughout the school day. Emphasize the importance of daily disinfecting of highly touched surfaces. Limit any use of shared equipment. They recommend screening staff and students for symptoms. Make plans for when people get sick, including short closings to allow for disinfecting.
Many recommendations are intended to minimize the number of staff and students in close contact. Keep the same group together all day for younger students and as much as possible for older students. Also, staggered drop off/pick up times and one person per row on school buses.
CDC’s Stance On The Importance Of Reopening Schools
It’s important to consider the full spectrum of benefits and risks of both virtual and in person learning options as families and policymakers make decisions about children returning to school. Parents are concerned about their children’s safety at school during COVID-19. Evidence indicates if children become infected, they are less likely to suffer severe symptoms. Death rates among children are much lower than among adults.
Lack of in person options with education harms children with disabilities, as well as, low income and minority children. They are far less likely to have access to care and private instruction. Far more likely to rely on school supported resources, like special education services, food programs and after school programs to meet their developmental needs.
Children are at a lower risk for contracting COVID-19 than adults. According to the CDC, as of July 17, 2020, children under 18 years old account for less than 7% of COVID-19 cases. Less than 0.1% of related deaths.
Fairly rare, but flu related deaths occur in children every year. From 2004 through 2019, children’s flu related deaths reported to the CDC range from 37 to 187. During the H1N1 Pandemic, there were 358 children’s deaths reported. Children with an underlying medical condition are at increased risks of severe illness with COVID-19.
If proper precautions are taken, based on current data, the rate of infection in younger school children and from students to teachers, has been low. Studies are conclusive, but available evidence shows reason to believe that in person instruction is in the best interest of children.