Monday Reads: School House Covid 19 Rock

Quiver School by Jeff Burton captures the degeneration of an old school building outside Havana, Illinois that once housed scores of children. The cold winter’s day and overcast skies create an atmosphere of desolation and solitude surrounding the old school. The school established in 1917, was one of the last one-room schools in operation before it closed.

Good Day Sky Dancers

The amount and content of the news right now is overwhelming.  It’s hard for me not to want to find a way to Rip Van Winkle myself to the future.  Maybe some kindle gentle version of a Dr Who will come give me a lift.  No story has stuck with me so much as the absolute chaos we’re creating by tossing children back into schools with very little resources, health care plans, and thought.  I can’t get the cartoon out of my head that BB shared when she discussed this topic this week.  Children were drawn as  the new classroom guinea pigs. They may also be the sacrificial lambs for the Trumpist Agenda.

I can’t help but wondering about all those folks involved in what it takes to run schools too.  Children are not immune from the virus. They are not immune from dying from it or suffering long term effects because of it.  This CNN article this morning held the usual shocking but not surprising given the state of affairs in our country under the most inept and destructive US federal government ever.  “More than 97,000 children tested positive for Covid-19 in the last two weeks of July, report says”. Christina Maxouris has the byline.

More than 97,000 children in the US tested positive for coronavirus in the last two weeks of July, a new report says.

The report, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, said in those two weeks, there was a 40% increase in child cases across the states and cities that were studied.

The age range for children differed by state, with some defining children as only those up to age 14 and one state — Alabama — pushing the limit to 24.

The compiled data comes during back-to-school season as health officials are trying to understand the effects of the virus on children and the role young people play in its spread. Some schools have begun welcoming crowds back to class and others have had to readjust their reopening plans in response to infections.

Schools provide an amazing number of functions and services for our children besides just pouring information into them and giving them skills.  They feed children.  They monitor children for potential issues at home. They provide play and social interaction along with the guidance one needs to function in a society.  All of this is missed if children are kept in isolation or in front of a screen.  But, the massive funds and commitment it takes to return children to school safely and protect the elders who support them is just not present at the Federal level.  Every school district should not be left to itself.

You can read a variety of local papers to figure out what’s going in each of the Districts all over the country. True, some needs of kids can be geographically specific like children out in the most rural areas have slightly different challenges then kids growing up in huge city centers.  However, classroom safety for a public health issue should come with complete, detailed instructions from our Federal Resources.  First and foremost the CDC should and has taken as much of a lead as it can.  We also have a Department of Education but the Secretary of that is about as useful as a comb is to a bald person.

There’s been more planning for school athletics programs–especially at the college and high school level–than for the academic environment itself. We all have seen and read about the Georgia School opening with its crowded hallways captured by one their young students Hannah Watters.  Now this headline (via the Hill): “9 people test positive for coronavirus at Georgia school where viral photos showed packed hallways.”  (Update: the young woman is no longer suspended but now she’s getting death threats).

Nine people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus at the Georgia high school that gained national attention after photos surfaced online showing dozens of students crowding into hallways.

North Paulding High School Principal Gabe Carmona said in a letter to parents on Saturday that at least six students and three faculty members who were in school for “at least some time” last week have since contracted COVID-19, according to a copy obtained by The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

In the note, Carmona said that the Paulding County School District was working with the state’s Department of Public Health (DPH) to implement “safety precautions and response plans.” He said the custodial staff would continue to clean and disinfect the school buildings daily. However, he did not mention whether any quarantine guidance would be released for students and faculty who may have come into contact with the infected individuals.

The Paulding County School District did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Boys Football 1910Some backward sliding for the fall is happening.  Even the Big 10 have decided no college football.  From the Detroit Free Press: “Sources: Big Ten votes to cancel football season; no games for Michigan, Michigan State in 2020.”  Which braindead states voted to play?

See you later, college football.

The Big Ten has voted to cancel the 2020 college football season in a historic move that stems from concerns related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, multiple people with knowledge of the decision confirmed to the Free Press.

The sources requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the decision. A formal announcement is expected to Tuesday, the sources said.

The presidents voted, 12-2, Sunday to end the fall sports in the conference. Michigan and Michigan State — which both has physicians as presidents — voted to end the season, sources said. Only Nebraska and Iowa voted to play, Dan Patrick said on his radio show Monday.

The move comes two days after the Mid-American Conference became the first in the FBS to cancel ts season, and sources told the Free Press the Big Ten is trying to coordinate its announcement with other Power Five conferences.

Maybe we should take a hint from the disaster of School Openings in Israel.

The Washington Post characterizes it as “chaos from coast to coast”.

It’s going to be screen time all the time for kindergartners and graduate students alike. Teachers are threatening strikes. And students are already coming home with covid-19, the disease that has upended American education.

The 2020-2021 school year has dawned and it’s more chaotic than any before.

Plans are changing so fast that students and parents can hardly keep up. Districts that spent all summer planning hybrid systems, in which children would be in school part of the week, ditched them as coronavirus cases surged. Universities changed their teaching models, their start dates and their rules for housing, all with scant notice.

And many districts and col­leges have yet to make final decisions, even now, with the fall term already underway in some parts of the country.

Desegregation in the 1970s

The one thing that is certain is that these responses being so varied and so underfunded will cause an even greater education gap between poor and rich school districts.  This is from Market Watch: “Inside the struggle to close the education equality gap exacerbated by COVID-19.”

Indeed, a whole industry of firms — including tutoring companies, nanny agencies and teacher placement services — has popped up across the country in the past several weeks, offering to help parents hire an educator to teach a handful of students, siblings or a child one-on-one to compensate for or even replace remote classes.

But these services are largely available only to those who can afford them. Some companies are charging five-figure placement fees, and even parents who find a tutor or nanny on their own could pay up to $100 per hour.

“It made me very upset,” Messenger said of discovering this dynamic.So instead of cashing in, she decided to try to do something about it. At Spread Tutoring, the business she launched just a few weeks ago, families who can afford it buy an hour of tutoring at competitive rates — $50 per hour for one child or $30 per hour, per child for small groups — and an hour of tutoring is provided to a low-income family.

There are a few options available from nonprofits but more are likely needed.

Still, some organizations stepping into the void have already had success, or at least interest. In Tennessee, nearly 3,000 students in kindergarten through sixth grade this summer participated in the Tennessee Tutor Corps, a program that, like Spread, took advantage of a less-than-ideal summer for college students to help serve younger students who lost out on valuable schooling in the spring.

Through the program, run by the Bill and Crissy Haslam Foundation, an organization founded by the state’s former governor and his wife, more than 600 college students like Emma Crownover tutored younger students from a masked social distance at Boys & Girls Clubs across the state.

“It just felt like the best thing for me to do with my summer that was a little bit derailed because of COVID,” Crownover said. The 20-year-old aspiring teacher wasn’t sure of her plans for this summer before the pandemic hit, but she “wasn’t exactly planning to be in Nashville,” her hometown.

“That all changed when college got cut off in the middle,” she said. For six weeks, the Scripps College student worked from 10 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday with the same group of rising first graders for the first hour and sixth graders for the second hour.

They worked through a binder of materials provided by the program, and Crownover could set the pace — if students had progressed beyond that week’s lesson, they could move ahead. Still, she could see the impact of the time away from school, particularly with some of the sixth graders who, during the first few weeks, struggled with reading comprehension.

“When you’re that age, it’s a muscle,” she said. “Reading is something that you have to practice every single day.”

Leslie Yossarian, the membership coordinator at the branch of the Boys & Girls Club in Sevierville, Tenn., enrolled her 7- and 8-year-old daughters in the program to help ease concerns she had about them being prepared to resume school in the fall, when they’re planning to attend in person.

When her children were sent home in the spring, Yossarian worked with them on the learning packets provided by the school. But, as she puts it, “I’m not a teacher; I’m not a homeschooler. I did the best I could to try to do their assignments and turn them in and keep them on track.”

Then there’s Oklahoma: “Tulsa World editorial: Stitt uses federal COVID-19 relief to help private school students”.

Gov. Kevin Stitt’s program to underwrite private school tuition could help families earning up to 450% of the federal poverty level if they can demonstrate significant income decrease because of COVID-19. The income ceiling for a family of four increases then to $117,900. . Sue Ogrocki/AP file

So, I’m worried about this and about of thousand other things today.  And here’s some perpsective.

Unsettling as these transitions and circumstances will be, short of a complete economic collapse, none stands out as a turning point in history. But what surely does is the absolutely devastating impact that the pandemic has had on the reputation and international standing of the United States of America.

In a dark season of pestilence, COVID has reduced to tatters the illusion of American exceptionalism. At the height of the crisis, with more than 2,000 dying each day, Americans found themselves members of a failed state, ruled by a dysfunctional and incompetent government largely responsible for death rates that added a tragic coda to America’s claim to supremacy in the world.

For the first time, the international community felt compelled to send disaster relief to Washington. For more than two centuries, reported the Irish Times, “the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger. But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the U.S. until now: pity.” As American doctors and nurses eagerly awaited emergency airlifts of basic supplies from China, the hinge of history opened to the Asian century.

No empire long endures, even if few anticipate their demise. Every kingdom is born to die.

 What’s on your reading and blogging today?

14 Comments on “Monday Reads: School House Covid 19 Rock”

  1. Thank you for the Rolling Stone article, which I would have missed. Such hard times, including having the mask of who we all are collectively torn away. We knew but not this clearly.

  2. dakinikat says:

    Okay, meant to tell you all to have a good week and be kind to yourselves but the drama continues in my life and this old house … been trying to talk to daughters and they scold me now! What a change of pace!

    We’re supposed to get the VEEP choice later today it seems.

    At least we get a woman there but I definitely want a few more on the supreme court!!

  3. quixote says:

    What makes me want to scream about the school reopenings is the blithering and unnecessary stupidity of it all. As a college teacher in the Before Time, this was all totally predictable (duh, everybody knows that) and there are obvious solutions we could have used the summer to set up.

    Australia, for instance, has been doing distant ed for far-flung rural communities for decades. They have it all worked out. It would have taken Federal leadership in the US, so I know it’s all pie-in-the-sky, but all I’m saying is nobody even had to reinvent the wheel. The information on how to do this is available.

    If the time and resources had been spent on getting distant ed organized, there wouldn’t now be this idiotic mad scramble to compensate for wishful thinking. It was always obvious where that was going to end: schools open for a week or two, zero educating, and nothing but hundreds of thousands of new cases to show for it, once the kids are done vectoring it around.

    • quixote says:

      And I hope there’s a special hell reserved for the people who put kids in the position of realizing, now or later, that they brought the disease to their teachers, their parents, their grandparents, and that it killed them. From DeVos on up and down, they’re forcing kids into that lifelong soul-crushing disaster.

    • bostonboomer says:

      No one here seems to have done the work to get teachers and kids ready for efficient distance learning. Based on my nephews’ experiences, it has been a joke so far.

      • quixote says:

        Exactly. Last spring was one thing. The pandemic wasn’t an expected disaster and people did what they could. But now we could have used the summer to prepare and done a much better job IF there had been centralized resources and help.

  4. jane says:

    The republicans are sacrificing the children in order to have a ‘good’ economy. They have one track minds with low IQs, so sacrifice the children, rather than think for 2 1/2 minutes. After they have done that, the future years will be more horrendous.

  5. dakinikat says:

    We have 4 kids now in LA who died from that horrible organ meltdown. We’re bound to see more if the districts are more strict with their opening plans

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