CDC says schools are safe to open, that school attendance isn’t correlated with spread

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With the COVID vaccines here, optimism grows. With new vaccines in the works and the distribution getting fast-tracked, projections of when we might be able to start hanging out again are being cautiously moved forward. Now, the Center for Disease Control says they have enough data to suggest that our kids can go back to in-person classrooms. According to new evidence, the CDC said students going back in the classroom has done little to spread the disease, as long as they maintain all the COVID precautions such as washing hands, social distancing and wearing masks.

Evidence shows that K-12 schools can safely resume in-person instruction in the U.S., as long as steps are taken to continue reducing the spread of COVID-19, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

As students returned to school across the nation — and the globe — for the fall semester “there has been little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission,” of COVID-19, researchers for the CDC wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

According to the report, a study of COVID-19 transmission among people ages 0 to 18 in Mississippi found that attending gatherings and social functions outside one’s home, as well as having visitors inside the home, was associated with increased risk of infection.

However, in-person school attendance was not.

“Accumulating data now suggest a path forward to maintain or return primarily or fully to in-person instructional delivery,” the researchers said.

That path would include taking steps to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in schools, including wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, as well as limiting activities such as indoor sports and other extracurricular activities.

[From People]

I want to be excited about this. However, reading the article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, their US samples are from rural Wisconsin, 11 school districts in North Carolina with 90,000 students and staff and one unspecified part of Mississippi. There are over 730,000 students alone in the single Los Angeles school district. Over 1M in New York’s, so the samples used in the evidence are a concern to me. Plus, the article relies heavily on the communities in which the school reside adhering to strict COVID precautions. Meaning everyone should be wearing masks and social distancing. No one should be gathering in homes or in large numbers unnecessarily. All outside interaction should remain limited. I wish I could rely on my community to do that, but they have yet to prove they can. Our school district, which is right outside LA unified, reopened to a hybrid in-person learning for K-2 for two months, I think, before all students were pulled back home. We just received another email they were going to try that again after Gov Newsom inexplicably reopened the state. Yes, we have seen a small dip in cases, but still have no hospital beds and are rationing resources. EMTs and ICU triage cases based on chances of survival. So all of this sounds like too much of a gamble to me.

The focus of the People article and the JAMA article seems to be the mental health of the students. It’s a valid concern. In CA, we haven’t gotten to Tier 1b on the vaccine process yet, which means out teachers haven’t been vaccinated. I absolutely agree that the current at-home school conditions and resources has put a giant mental strain on students. But based on these articles, there’s too much assumption to feel confident that sending them back to the classrooms will alleviate stress and not just create new ones. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep working towards getting kids back in school. And communities that have shown no growth in new cases and proper guideline adherence should allow kids in classrooms. But I think even if I asked my socially starved children their preference right now, they’d be freaked out given the horror show we’ve been witness to over the last six months.

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107 Responses to “CDC says schools are safe to open, that school attendance isn’t correlated with spread”

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  1. ThEHufflepuffLizLemon says:

    So, I live in Forsyth County, GA north of Atlanta and we’ve been open with an optional online learning choice since the beginning of the school year for elementary and middle school (high school is another beast). I sent my child to third grade because he has no known risk factors, as a family we have no co-morbidities or risk factors, and because he is an only child and being at home was severely impactful for him. There’s a very detailed contact tracing process, and I’ve gotten a call once, when my child was in the same room as but not within 15 feet of the positive case. They have created a culture around “Mask Up Wash Up” and I’ve observed it first hand as my child leaves the car. They have floor markers were people should be, where teachers should teach, the whole bit. The cases have been kept to a minimum and the spread within the school has been zero identified-no passing from one kid to another or teacher to child. They also set up a program that EVERY child, “qualified” or not, receives breakfast and lunch, no questions asked, and online students can pick up their meals as needed.

    So. Can it be done? Yes. Does it require a ton of funding, effort, and compliance? Also yes. Will poorly funded and supported schools be able to do the same thing? Probably not. And that’s why there should be a lot of financial and federal support around this entire situation.

    • josephine says:

      Haven’t there been a number of teachers in the Atlanta area that have died of Covid that they caught from teaching in-person?

      There are so many factors to take into consideration in addition to the ability of students and staff to comply. Many, many school buildings in this country are among the oldest building stock we have. Super poor ventilation, outdated HVAC, small classrooms. At our local highschool they were shoving 35 kids into rooms meant for 20 which means that they should probably only have 7 or 8 kids in those rooms with social distancing rules.

      I agree that schools should be making plans, but as you mention, it would involve more money that we would ever allocate to schools, and it’s really an impossible task for much of the country. There will be no bake sales to make up for the total lack of investment in our schools in these past 25 or 30 years.

      And I’m so tired of making our teachers the sacrifical lambs for everything. The malice toward teachers in this country is incredible, and so many communities could care less if the teachers (and school bus drivers and other school staff) are risking their lives.

      • ThEHufflepuffLizLemon says:

        Yes, within the city, absolutely, we’ve lost two teachers recently. That’s kind of where I was going-FoCo has invested a TON of money and required so much rigor to make it work in the lower grades. Without that level of investment, no matter what the CDC says… still high risk.
        Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

      • josephine says:

        @TheEHufflepuffLizLemon – I was definitely agreeing with you – it can be done safely in some spots, but my guess is that that’s exception, not the rule. It just kills me that the CDC is making this broad announcement without also acknowledging that teachers are dying so that we can have kids back in school.

      • Nikki* says:

        Most of the US is facing a severe teacher shortage now, since many older teachers retired early, and many others couldn’t deal with the emotional strain of being forced into online teaching with little preparation of the what, when, and how’s. They’ve been terrible scapegoats in this, although the teachers I know have been working their tails off. Teachers’ unions have fought back against dangerous working conditions. It’s SO unfortunate that we can’t trust every community to employ the highest safety systems in our schools.

      • Juju says:

        Josephine: teacher deaths are a huge factor for why I’ve kept my kids home this year. We ask so much of teachers…. I know putting my kids in school means that a teacher has to be there risking their lives to teach them. I’m very lucky that my daughters are doing ok being away from their friends (I know many who aren’t) and that we have the resources to watch them at home. Granted my husband and I are both working from home and it has been a real struggle with my youngest trying to keep her engaged with online school and also do my job. But as long as we are all healthy we are OK. And if I have the luxury to work from home then I feel like keeping my kid at home with me is the best thing I can do to mitigate the spread in my community.

      • ThEHufflepuffLizLemon says:

        We also have an extremely active PTO that raises a lot of funding, our schools have 12/15 of the top ranked public elementary schools in GA (which is just a reflection of funding/privilege, let’s be honest), and the median household income for our population is 50% higher than the state. This all translates into funding, space, support, and opportunities to administer the programs that can make returning to in-person school feasible. It’s just not possible everywhere, and I think the CDCs statements are going to be used as all sorts of justifications that aren’t accurate unless everyone gets the right level of support.

        This is part of a larger conversation around the importance of properly and fairly funding our school systems. Our teachers make up the gaps every year, and this year, the cost has been more than financial; it’s been their physical and mental health, and in some cases, their lives.

      • (TheOG) Jan90067 says:

        Gotta say, if I didn’t retire a few yrs. ago due to Leukemia, I sure as sh!t wouldn’t go back into a classroom for ANYTHING right now! The schools I taught at in L.A. were all old buildings. Windows could barely open due to years of being painted over. Due to all of the active shooter drills and such we always had to have doors closed and locked from the outside.

        Finally got a/c, but who knows about any filtering? L.A. did it on the cheap; put these MONSTROSITIES on our classroom ceilings with pipes/vents everywhere. And we know how the airborne virus can get in and then spread the virus throughout the room.

        NOW…we come to class size. Even when we went down to “20″ in a class “officially”, mainstreamed kids were NEVER factored into the actual “bodies in the room” count. They were “carried” on the Special Ed teacher’s roster, not the class they actually sat IN. You have the kids who mainstream in all day, and the ones that come in and out, depending on what subject they are mainstreaming for. So, usually, I always had 27-36 in a classroom at any given time of day. We were crowded as it was; how the hell are you supposed to “socially distance” that many kids in a class (with desks that seat 2; NO individual desks in any of the elem. schools I taught/subbed in).

        Then of course, factor in that all the kids go home, to homes that may or may NOT be following other health protocols, parents coming and going for work or play… Kids can be asymptomatic and still have a huge viral load that can infect others.

        It’s a recipe for disaster until more of the gen. pop. and ESPECIALLY teachers and school WORKERS get vaccinated with their 2nd dose!

    • ItReallyIsYouNotMe says:

      I am in Orlando and my children have been in person since August. Their school also requires masks, desks 6 feet apart, distancing from other classrooms, etc. There have been 2 or 3 cases in the school that I know about that thankfully did not spread. I know we had one case in our house, informed the school immediately, kept my kids out of school for the 14 day quarantine, And the kids ended up testing negative so they were not impacting anyone in the school. That’s just one anecdotal case but it shows to me that these procedures can work.

      BUT I also live in a wealthy school district that could afford to give every child a laptop at the beginning of the year to reduce the teachers’ requirement to be next to the children on a frequent basis. I realize that for schools that don’t have those kind of resources that would be very difficult. I have also been concerned because a bunch of children came back at the beginning of this semester and the more kids who are in the school and are living their life like there’s no pandemic outside of school, the more likely it is that there will be a spreader event.

    • Missskitttin says:

      Our daughter goes to a private school. They offered the option of online schooling, which we took (and we pay the same tuition!!!!! :( )
      Nevertheless there has been an elevated number of infections in the school. Do kids fare well after COVID? Probably yes. Would their parents have the same luck? Maybe not.
      So we are waiting for a vaccine (I have comorbidities galore)

  2. Kate says:

    The cdc is a joke.

  3. Normades says:

    I’ve read several articles in the NYT about children and Covid. Under the age of 10, child to child or child to adult spread is rare. If a child contracts Covid it is most likely at home from an adult.

    I struggle with this question and obviously don’t have the answers, I’m just putting that out. Safety measures absolutely have to be reinforced though.

  4. Katherine says:

    My kids have been back in person since August. I am in a small rural northeastern district and that definitely helped. It was a small school to begin with and relatively easy to adjust to social distancing. Plus I’m happy to report that despite a lot of concerns going into August about how to handle non mask compliance, one of the teachers told me it literally hasn’t been an issue once. I was really pleasantly surprised at that. I know my kids (ages 8 and 6) aren’t bothered. We have had a few cases but no sudden outbreak or uncontrollable spread.

    I think the issues here are so much bigger than just a study supporting one option are the other. Remote schooling is hard on the kids socially/psychologically , and even more concerning is the situation for at risk or already struggling students who really depend on that consistent in person instruction (as well as other services school can provide). I read a really upsetting article awhile back about how some of the damage done this year may be impossible to ever know and there could be a whole lost cohort of kids.

    Now that said, I 100% think schools and teachers should be safe and have the resources needed to pull this off safely. That’s issue 1. But the bigger issue to me is that in many places around here at least, you can go to the mall, Great Wolf Lodge (a germ pit before the pandemic if you ask me) any restaurant you want, and get your hair done but not school? That has really frustrated a lot of people who have had to keep kids remote. From the get go school should have been a priority and the fun stuff closed. I know restaurants and malls and salons are part of the economy too and people depend on those jobs, but the government should have planned for that and basically paid people to stay home so we could focus on the critical aspects of society that had to run. I think we all know Trump would have never done that, but I think it just speaks so much to our priorities as a nation. Capitalism above all else I guess. :(

    • RoyalBlue says:

      Regarding schooling, this has been my experience too. We have not had any issues from any schools, however this requires a compliant population.

    • Noodle says:

      @katherine, I live in Orange County, CA, and my three kids are in three different districts. Each district offered a hybrid model this year, and started virtual only, then went to in-person learning starting in mid-September to mid-October (depends on the district). They did this successfully with a couple of factors:
      1. Classroom populations were halved. My kindergartner goes from 8-10:30 four days a week with 12 other kids. They wear masks 100% of the time. There are plastic partitions dividing desks, and shielding the teachers desk. They are not allowed to touch or eat. They constantly sanitize and wipe down surfaces. There are very strict cleaning protocols in place. My middle schooler goes from 8:30-11 four days a week, with similar conditions. My high schooler goes 8:30-1 two days a week, with only 5-10 kids in each class, with similar conditions. The key to this success is planning. The schools were really thoughtful about how they worked this out, and parents have had to pick up the slack with having kids home more and the transportation reduced school hours create.
      2. The districts communicate to us any time a student, staff member or teacher is reported to be a positive case. We get the name of the school site as well as the class (student, teacher, etc), but no other identifying information. I am actually surprised there aren’t MORE cases, especially as our ICU rates got up to 90-100% around the holidays. But the school sites never did. And that’s from careful planning.
      3. My kids are mentally and emotionally in better places on days they are in school. They were suffering in virtual-only, especially my two older ones.
      4. We intentionally don’t get together with grandparents or friends or go ANYWHERE due to their school exposure. We know being in school puts them at risk, but it’s a risk we will take since we refuse to spread it via social interactions with others outside our home.

      The success of this is dependent on not just throwing 100% of the kids back in school on the first day and telling them to be careful, but not having protocols in place to protect them. It is also dependent on a higher-than-average income level where working parents have options for transportation and after school care because the logistics are effing insane, and I feel it with three kids. If this were a different community, I’m not sure a lot of parents would be able to manage all the factors. Heck, I can barely remember where I’m supposed to be at any given time on top of my own work schedule.

      • RoyalBlue says:

        I feel you on this part: it is also dependent on a higher-than-average income level where working parents have options for transportation and after school care

        this is true, my kids are in private school with smaller class sizes and facilities where it is easy to distance. But they have also cancelled all afterschool sport and extra-curricular activities except for the kids in primary school in aftercare, so we need to get them off campus as soon as school is over. this is not an easy feat with two working parents, but i admit we are lucky to work in fields that allow us this flexibility and are not negatively affected by this terrible disease. The public schools have the same success rate.

      • Noodle says:

        @royalblue, I am fortunate to work from home with a pretty flexible schedule. My husband was laid off in May and takes the kids to school in the mornings so I can get some work done before afternoon craziness (my two younger are both home by 11am). I know I’m fortunate to have that flexibility, which I wouldn’t have if I worked at Target or in healthcare. It’s a luxury afforded to me because of my education and position, which I’ve worked hard for, but again, a luxury. I have several friends whose kids are online only because they can’t hack the transportation and shortened hours (or they have someone immune-compromised in their circle and/or can’t/don’t want to risk), and I get it. It’s a really effing hard time for everyone.

  5. Katie says:

    I must be some kind of freak but I don’t feel socially starved at all. I did for the first two or something months, but I’ve gotten over it. and I’m an extravert

    • Esmom says:

      I don’t either, but I’m an introvert. My husband and one of my sons hate all this and want to see more people. My other son is like me, and thriving in his online college classes for the third semester in a row. He’s on the autism spectrum, though, and jokes that he is wired for social distancing.

      • Noodle says:

        I’m an introvert and work from home. My husband was laid off in May. I have three kids in hybrid school, but they go only a few hours a few days a week. I think I am actually MORE socially stretched right now because of having everyone at home at various periods. In non-pandemic times my work was quiet enough that the hours everyone was out of the house was a relief to me and I could bubble as much as I wanted to. Now, I have demands from every which direction, and I am never alone. There is a 90 min period on Tuesdays where all three kids are in school, but with my husband home, it’s not the same. I keep up with friends and my parents via texting and calls, which are a lifeline to me when I want to scream. Having to hear about middle school drama or power hungry high school teachers is going to be the end of me; unfortunately, because they don’t get enough social action to fulfill their needs, I have to fill the holes a lot of days. And it’s exhausting.

  6. Jkelly says:

    In my town ( I live in MA) we have been doing a hybrid model and it’s been working well. But as a mom with a child with learning disabilities, this just isn’t enough in person learning time. My sons frustrated and his progress has been so slow. Honestly there’s no good solution.

    • Darla says:

      “Honestly there’s not good solution”.

      That’s what I think. Putting us in an impossible position where nobody’s really right or wrong, they just have different priorities or lived experience. If you are a teacher are you going to have the same priority as a single working mom who can’t afford daycare? No way.

      We’re between a rock and a hard place and covid keeps squeezing.

  7. Jkelly says:

    In my town ( I live in MA) we have been doing a hybrid model and it’s been working well. But as a mom with a child with learning disabilities, this just isn’t enough in person learning time. My sons frustrated and his progress has been so slow. Honestly there’s no good solution.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Something tells me they don’t want to reopen schools for any reason other than money, the economy and jobs. They don’t care about children’s mental health — if our country cared about that, we would have universal healthcare.

    The sample sizes are a joke, exactly; most communities aren’t following protocol strictly, exactly. JAMA is a major journal, but clearly they can be bought.

    • Michelle says:

      @Elizabeth —your whole comment was like, Dingdingding, this right here! Mental health, my foot. Nobody has cared enough about children’s overall health since the beginning of time, it feels like, and mental health is constantly conveniently thrown around yet never addressed (gun control, anyone? Nah, it’s all about mental health, right???).

      The sample size is also ridiculous. I live in NC, one of the wealthiest zip codes in the state (I’m personally not, but I live here). Not sure where they pulled their data from but schools are wildly different in The Triangle and Mecklenburg vs the rest of the state (I grew up near the coast, so part of that “rest of the state”). Our local school is brand new, so I would trust their ventilation, etc., and I think the schools and teachers are doing an amazing job. But I’m not sending my kids. Why? Because the schools are so packed with kids normally that if I have the option to keep them home, I will, and then social distancing can happen for the kids that do need to go. This school info is rubbish, and my only takeaway is what we already know: less spread if social distancing and masks happen. That won’t happen if they say “schools are safe so everybody come back.”

      And the amount of anecdotal stories I’ve heard about sick teachers, dead teachers, and teachers retiring bc they feel literally crazy—I can’t even get started on that point.

      • AmunetMaat says:

        I’m in NC as well. Our numbers are atrocious, and the community spread is at an all-time high. Our major local hospital was close to 98% capacity for beds. And when reports like this get published, parents in the community use it as a barometer for why schools should be open. However, our buildings are falling, out-dated, barely have proper working HVAC, mold issues, etc. No way should students be returning now. This year and next Fall should be virtual. They need funding to put real online-virtual options in place, as well as fix the schools. If they cared about mental health, the biggest reason for #ReOpenSchools, we need to make sure there is an on-staff Nurse, more counselors, on-staff Psychologist, and mental health appointments supported by our local Children’s Mental Health hospital. We are not getting any of those things. Students in our inner-city schools have had PTSD forever, and yet no one cared. Now it’s an issue….ok, Karens of the community.

    • Kate says:

      Yep I land here too. Our district and surrounding districts insist it isn’t being spread in school and they have a multi-step plan for contact tracing and notifying parents of new cases, etc. Yet a friend who is a teacher at the neighboring district told me the teachers were told to have students move around the classroom every 15 minutes so they’re not sitting next to the same kids for longer than that. Meaning, if one kid has covid, that is their workaround for having to quarantine the whole classroom – technically the kid wasn’t next to anyone for more than 15 minutes! (he was next to 3 people for 14 minutes each). So…that’s the faith I have in our area school districts’ transparency and concern for student health.

      • elizac says:

        I am a high school teacher who has been teaching in person AND online since August, with no extra compensation (of course) or any real support system. School administration is ABSOLUTELY doing whatever necessary to avoid having to quarantine students and (especially) teachers. At the central office level, too many care more about perception than safety, and having a Covid outbreak is like a scarlet letter. (Don’t know why, but it is.)

        Just one fun example from this week: We had a teacher test positive who was in the same room (eating lunch, maskless) with several other teachers a few days before their positive test came back. None of them were quarantined (because there are no substitutes to cover their classes.)

    • Grace says:

      Yep…it’s ALL about the money. That is IT!! I am a teacher at a community college. Our students range in age from 18-80..adults! They want us to go back, and let me tell you, although on paper all the rules and precautions are in place…when it comes to reality, you should see the lack of distancing, noses hanging out, and people wearing gators instead of masks. Don’t get me started on the ventilation. Or lack thereof. I feel completely disposable, as do most of the teachers. We are not in a good place. We also have no union. If I didn’t need to work for the health insurance, I might just quit. And that’s another issue entirely.

  9. Mebee says:

    I’m going to need a tutorial on that little girl’s braid bun. It’s gorgeous. Any hair experts here? And no, that’s not my only take away from this depressing article. Just trying to see a silver lining in a sea of muck and misery.

    • original_kellybean says:

      That’s the only reason I clicked on this article – as I am Canadian and don’t have children so none of this affects me. And the natural highlights? Come on! I have never been so jealous of a 4-6 year old’s hair as much as I am now.

    • SarahCS says:

      I want to get her backpack.

  10. RoyalBlue says:

    My kids have been in school since September and I agree with this observation. Kids have to mask up, lots of handwashing and sanitizing happening and the desks are distanced. They stick to their bubbles and so far, so good. We have no cases with outbreaks in schools. There are procedures in place for what happens if a family member or a student or a student tests positive and so far these have been quite successful in containing the spread and flattening the curve due to rigorous contact tracing and testing.

  11. Miss Margo says:

    I’ve said this to my government officials in Ontario, and I’ll say it here. These people say “the school’s aren’t the cause of most transmissions.” Ok, but guess what happens in my neighborhood? All those families who’s kids go to school together, HANG OUT outside of school. The open schools is like the gateway to “oh, well, we might as well hang out outside of school,since our kids are in the same class.” This is what parents have been doing in my neighborhood for almost a year now.

    • SarahCS says:

      Here is the UK schools are only open to the children of essential workers and a school has been in the news this week for saying that their students are telling teachers about all the mixing they are doing with other households outside of school. The school is saying they won’t accept children whose families aren’t following the rules out of school.

      It’s not just about the schools.

      • Cerise says:

        My child’s preschool has remained open but I have decided not to let her go back because the risk is too high. We still do not know what the long term effects of this virus are. We have barely gone out of the house for the last year except for Groceries or doctor appointments,
        Haven’t seen any family or friends and have taken all precautions and we still managed to get it a few months ago. Thankfully we did not require hospitalisation but are still dealing with some after effects. No matter how many bubbles and safety measures they have, if the parents/families are not compliant outside of school those measures don’t really matter. I am in the UK and everyone acts as if we are overreacting, even the school is pressuring me to bring her back though it is not yet mandatory her age.
        It drives me crazy to still see people either maskless or with complete disregard for social distancing!!!
        Even friends and acquaintances I once considered educated and with common sense are still traveling overseas by plane, which is completely beyond my scope of comprehension.
        Sometimes I feel like my only safe space is this website, where all you fellow celebitchies actually take this pandemic seriously!!
        Rant over … sorry!

    • HK9 says:

      Fellow Ontarian here-I agree with you totally. The schools opening has led to many more cases. It’s also because many parents don’t get their kids tested. They just assume everything’s fine if they don’t see any symptoms hence it’s spread like wildfire. It’s led to our current situation, which is not good.

    • Esmom says:

      Yes, this is exactly what my sister describes in her suburban town. Which is why her daughter opted for the remote learning option.

    • Nikki* says:

      EXACTLY. The schools may have safe protocols in place, but that all goes to H outside of school. It’s maddening.

  12. Tanguerita says:

    This is such a pile of steaming sh–te. Since they closed schools here in Germany six weeks ago the incidence went from 200 down to 100. Previous to that the government tried the”lockdown light”: pretty much everyone was closed – non-essential shops, restaurants, museums, concert venues, bars, everything but schools and kindergardens, yet we had 30000 new infections daily, and now it’s down to 15000. Children are the main vectors, mostly because they often don’t show any symptoms. The kids of my brother-in-law caught it at school, didn’t even know till the class was sent to quarantine: in the meantime they gave it to their parents (some mild symptoms) and their grandparents who landed in intensive care for three weeks.

    • Sigmund says:

      Yeah, I’m still extremely cautious to accept these claims that children and schools don’t cause increased spread. Most of the articles and studies I’ve seen have looked at very small groups and had limited scope. And at least in my state, which is run by a Trump-supporting Republican, we STILL aren’t testing enough. So we don’t actually have the data to support the claim that opening schools is safe, because we don’t know how many cases we have. I will say my state once had the highest infection rate in the country and are still in the top three. Even without adequate testing.

      Everyone wants to open schools, and hearing that it’s safe makes folks feel better about it, because they need to do it anyway so they can go to work. But just because you want something to be the truth doesn’t mean it actually is, and we need to be really careful about taking these claims that opening schools won’t add to the spread at face value. That attitude is what’s already worsened a lot of things in this pandemic.

      • Tanguerita says:

        I hear you. According to the short-term evaluation of sick leaves taken due to corona between march and december 2020 that was published yesterday in Germany, the most endangered occupational group were nursery and preschool teachers. Not hospital staff, not nurses, but teachers. Kids are not getting tested, because they don’t show any symptoms and it’s nearly impossible to make them wear masks or maintain any form of social distancing.

  13. Case says:

    My friend is a high school teacher in Republican area. They’ve had 100 cases since September with hybrid learning and want to keep pushing forward toward a full reopening. My friend is scared every day to go to work.

  14. Ashley says:

    Two thoughts:
    1. I think it’s a lot easier for small, private (read:more money) schools to open safely than it is for large public (read: no funds) schools to do so. Comparing the two types of schools is like apples and oranges. What works for one simply won’t for the other.
    2. I don’t think schools are super spreaders, but I simply don’t buy that kids can go to in person learning with low risk. In my state, private schools are not required to report outbreaks to the public, so it makes it look like kids aren’t getting sick. Teacher friends are telling me a different story though. Entire grades on quarantine, tons of positive cases, ect.

  15. Becks1 says:

    I think what the data show is what we’ve known for most of the pandemic – mask wearing and social distancing really makes all the difference. So it makes sense that in schools where these rules are enforced, the transmission rate is low.

    My concern is that often people hear “kids are back in school” and then assume that life can resume – the kids start hanging out with more friends outside of school, you go to a restaurant to eat inside after you pick the kids up from the bus stop, etc.

    My boys are back in a hybrid mode (they went back in October, but after a month the school system went back to FT virtual bc of our rising numbers, which are worse now but my county literally did.not.care.) Anyway, the BoE being stupid aside, the hybrid mode seems to be going well (we started again in January with it.) They go two days a week, everyone is virtual on Wednesdays, and enough students elected to stay FT virtual that their class sizes are really small – my kindergartener is one of 4 in his class, and my third grader is one of 5 (that attend in person.) So while the social aspect isnt that great bc of that, it means there is some personal attention when the teacher isnt teaching virtual as well – my kindergartner’s handwriting, for example, has already greatly improved with being in school. BUT my county is not that densely populated and most classes in our elementary school have 20ish kids, or fewer.

    My governor though, is in HOT water with the teachers after he demanded that all counties have a plan to start getting students back by March 1 – but I think his point was more that some counties are just punting it, and not coming up with any kind of plan. (but his attitude about it was shitty.)

    Anyway, I think its a tough line to walk – students should go back in some way if they can go back in a way that is safe for them and the teachers/staff, and that’s the sticking point, isnt it? Making sure everyone is safe. And like the rest of the pandemic, this highlights so many of the issues with our education system. For example, one county near me has been cutting the education budget significantly in recent years (and laying off teachers), so now some of their class sizes are between 30-40 students – so the kids are only going back ONE day a week because that’s all they can do with social distancing. And that seems like a lot of effort for me (to implement a hybrid system) for only one in-person day. But that dates back to decisions made several years ago.

    I dont know. I clearly have thoughts about this, lol. Yes, returning kids to school is best – but it has to be done in a safe way and many, many school districts are not equipped for that.

  16. Scal says:

    The thing about that paper is 1) it was last fall before the new variants. There are already new UK studies looking at the impact of the new variants in school.

    2-schools are safe with certain conditions. Upgraded HVAC, social distancing classroom, no indoor sports, masks. There’s criteria some rural and urban schools aren’t going to be able to make

  17. Rose says:

    I live in an area that does not give a F about Covid and several teachers in my district have already died—two of them were from confirmed exposures at school. Half of my colleagues openly say masks don’t work, let them hang around their chins, even after the deaths of people they know. The staff who are high risk are pitted against those who aren’t. Our bitch faced receptionist lets her mask be a chin diaper all day and fixes you with a stare that clearly says “what are you going to do about it?”

    Sure it’s safe to open schools when spread is controlled in the community. It’s not safe when the community clearly could not care less. I’m high risk, will die if I get it, and I can’t tell you how angry I get when people tell me I should be happy to risk my life for pennies with no provided PPE because their child is bored and needs social interaction.

    • Darla says:

      I can’t stand these people. i have masks that say “it goes over your nose” and sometimes i point to that in stores. But i’m in NY and they will kick you out and even call the cops if you are not masked. I feel so bad. You’re in an awful situation.

  18. Skyblue says:

    What I don’t hear in all this conversation is any concern for the teachers, maintenance crew, kitchen staff or administrators of schools. My sister is the superintendent of a small, poorly funded rural elementary school in a western red state. She’s home right now, sick as all get out with Covid 19 that she contracted from someone at the school even though she has followed every best practice including always wearing a mask, avoiding social gatherings, restaurants…we haven’t gathered as a whole extended family since December of 2019. She’s harassed constantly by parents, damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t. And you know who gives her the hardest time? The wealthier parents, the parents with good jobs with liberal sick time and the ability to work from home. The poor parents have been grateful as hell for everything she has tried to do.

    • Esmom says:

      Oh wow, my heart goes out to your sister. You are exactly right that everyone seems to conveniently forget everyone who makes a school actually run when they talk about how transmission among kids is low. I hope she gets better soon.

      Here in Chicago the teachers are on the brink of a strike, frantically pushing back about fully re-opening schools for in-person learning. I feel like we are so close to getting everyone vaccinated that it would make sense to wait for that. But I get why parents are frantic about their kids’ well-being too. It really is a horrific situation all around for everyone.

      • Anna says:

        Yes, and here in Chicago a few days ago, there was an article showing a map of the still-deeply-segregated city with covid deaths clustered in the Black and Brown neighborhoods where largely front-line workers live in contrast with the majority white areas who have already gotten the vaccine. People were weeping over this, not because it’s surprising but because it’s so deeply f-ed up and horrific. CNN today re: white folks getting the vaccine in my higher numbers percentage-wise than BIPOC. My point is 1) racism 2) how this affects the return to school. Teachers are already stretched to the limit. We are working exponentially more with translating everything we do into online format and having to manage the emotional and psychological side of things. And in colleges/universities, 75% of the teachers are contractors paid by the class *if it fills* (which is not guaranteed so you spend every summer and every Christmas holiday refreshing the class numbers to see whether you’ll have a job or not, be able to pay the rent come February), no salary or benefits. After 20 years teaching and 15 years in higher ed, I finally got a small contractor promotion with health insurance (still no job security or salary despite awards) but I’ve been giving so much for so long to the PWI and to my students who I care for dearly that I can barely keep up with all of the health issues as my body is breaking down from the years of stress and all of that amidst pandemic. And when I see people making comments elsewhere online about teachers and “summer vacation”, it really makes my blood boil. We work so, so hard. Students know it (well, most of them) but admin is all about the $$$. I feel terrible for the parents but my heart is with the teachers most of all (and especially those who are both parents and teachers). <3

    • Haapa says:

      Yeah this. I work at a university in Canada in the teaching labs and I have been dealing with face-to-face labs since September. And it looks like I will never get a semester off from face-to-face teaching. I have my regular course load this semester, as if we aren’t even in the middle of a pandemic. I am currently exposed to 80+ strangers if you count students, TAs, and instructors. I have to take public transit to work every day. I can tell you that even if I have symptoms, I can’t stay home because there is no one to cover for me. I can also tell you that my mental health hasn’t been this bad in over a decade. I’m at a breaking point and considering talking to a doctor about getting time off for my mental health. I now have suicidal thoughts first thing when I wake up in the morning.

      • GuestwithCat says:

        Oh Haapa please do get mental help. We can’t lose you to suicide now when in a few months we will turn the corner on this pandemic. Hang in there! And thank you for all that you do. Remember you’re not alone, these are challenging times for so many. Just get the help you need to restore your equilibrium. I’m so sorry for what you’re going through.

      • (TheOG) Jan90067 says:

        Haapa, I’m so sorry you’re so stressed out!! You MUST make yourself and your health your priority!! The school will somehow manage. GOD FORBID you try and harm yourself, they sure as hell would find a way to get your classes covered. Please…TAKE CARE OF YOU!!!!

        Know that your fellow CBer cares❤️

      • Amy Too says:

        Haapa, thanks for sharing and I’m thinking about you and wishing you well. You are a good, important person and we don’t want to lose you or anyone else to suicide. We value you and it’s okay to value yourself and make your health, including mental health, a priority. Talk to a doctor and advocate for some time off for yourself. Thanks for posting, your post will likely resonate with other commenters who are in a similar situation and are thinking about getting some help from a doctor.

        I’ve gone back on antidepressants again a few months ago after doing pretty well off them for a few years. I needed them, they are helping me, and I just wish I had asked earlier. I also work at a job where there is no one else who can fill in for me if I get sick or need to take a personal day. I work in childcare and if I don’t go to work, that means the parents can’t go to work either. I haven’t had a day off in over a year (besides weekends) but I realized I really, really needed some time off. I got up the nerve to tell the parents I wanted to take a week off sometime in the next month or two and asked them to let me know what week worked best for them. They chose something 8 weeks away, but just knowing I have that week off is helping to keep me going. I have it highlighted on all my calendars and I cross off a day every night. Seeing the days go down and the off week getting closer makes it easier to go to work until then.

      • Haapa says:

        Thank you all for your kind words. They really mean a lot. The only person I have been honest with this about is my partner, who is really worried about me. It’s not even that I want to die, it’s just that I want relief from the stress but it feels like there is no end in sight.

  19. caitlinsmom says:

    I live in a state where the positivity rate this week is +16%. My daughter is 15, a HS freshman, and has been FT remote since school started in the Fall. Schools here are under tremendous pressure from our governor and our state education agency to return to FT FTF learning for all. Our district has been strongly criticized for retaining remote learning. Our teachers can’t get vaccinated. My daughter has told me that the idea of FTF learning right now is terrifying.

    • GuestwithCat says:

      My daughter is 16, a sophomore and also terrified. This pressure to act like everything is normal when it’s not is surreal.

    • Amy Too says:

      I wonder if you’re in Michigan like I am? My son is a freshman and his school started offering hybrid learning for the first time in the middle of of January but we, and quite a few others, have chosen to remain full time virtual for now. He just doesn’t want to go back. He says he doesn’t want to die, and while I know he’s saying “die” in a worst case scenario, purposely trying to be shocking in order to make a point kind of way, he is nervous about getting sick or getting his family sick.

      I worry about the teachers. I worry about the teenagers—it seems like we more data about very young children and their risk than we do about teenagers and young adults. In my large city I still see people at the grocery store, and even the doctors office, with their masks not covering their nose or even just hanging around their chin. We had such high numbers and huge amounts of deaths in MI at the beginning of the pandemic and they went down significantly when our governor insisted on keeping things partially locked down throughout the summer, and into the fall and winter, and our larger school districts have been very careful about restarting in person learning. There were many false alarms starting in the fall, where they would offer to get your kid signed up for in person only to cancel the whole idea a few days before it was supposed to start.

  20. Ladyjax says:

    I’m ticked that kids with special needs were entirely left out of this conversation. My son is in early special ed, virtually. It’s nearly pointless. But my kid *will not* wear a mask because of sensory issues, he does not understand social distancing, handwashing, or the pandemic as a whole. So we decided against doing in person learning. It’s all well and good to say “if everyone just follows all the rules all the time, it’ll be fine.” But not everyone can talk or fully understands what’s happening. F the CDC.

    • Anna says:

      So true. And teachers of special needs especially speech pathologists. It’s a terrible and very, very difficult situation.

  21. Indywom says:

    The school district in a neighboring county had to shut down for several weeks because they did not have enough subs to cover for all the teachers who had to quarantine or who were impacted by the COVID. My friend who teaches in another school district is having to return to school full time and she is terrified. The kids have been at home the first semester and she still had to report to her building. There have been several people who tested positive for COVID in her building and no one notified the teachers. And across the country several teachers have died of COVID. My point is that the districts are going to have to cough up a lot of money for PPE and that teachers should have been behind first responders to receive the vaccine if people really wanted schools to reopen. And I can tell you when you have 35 high school kids in a class because the Republicans in charge of the state constantly short change education, there is no way to get back to any normalcy soon.

  22. souperkay says:

    We can’t even enforce people wearing one mask and now with the new variants, everyone should be wearing two. I don’t doubt with funding and support, schools could open. Children can learn to do the mitigating protective measures. But we don’t know what we don’t know, in that we don’t know because of school shut downs last spring, then summer break, how transmissible and deadly the variants of COVID will be to children. We don’t know how children pass it on to others.

    I do not support in person, face to face learning at this time, despite what studies are being published because those studies are looking backward at incomplete data from the fall/winter.

  23. wildwaffles says:

    Our district has been fully open since August, even playing sports with spectators. Poorer than average adherence to safety guidelines with some teachers even refusing to wear masks. Lots of community spread. You have a choice of fully in person or fully online. The numbers here show elementary students are not getting sick or spreading it that much. But middle school through high school is a totally different story. The majority of the spread is there. So far, we’ve had over 5% of the student population get sick and 15% of the teachers and staff. That doesn’t include the numbers of students and teachers being taken out on quarantine (one DAY last week we had 5 high school students + and they took over 70 students/teachers out with them as close contacts). When the second semester started, 1/3 of my child’s teachers were out. The district is begging parents to become emergency substitute teachers who just sit in the classroom and babysit. My kids, who are fully online learners, don’t get any teacher interaction in those circumstances b/c the substitutes aren’t allowed to do online teaching. So technically the buildings are open but the learning? Seriously impacted, inconsistent and unequal.

  24. Teacher says:

    Teacher here – I’ve been in session since August. I was TERRIFIED of going back and the surge in November was beyond terrifying. We have had no documentation per the health department and our admins doing contact tracing of in school spread. I have been exposed to three students who have tested positive and I did not. So, we have cases but they’re linked to kids who hang out maskless outside of school and do sports without masks. That said, we have the means to social distance, reduce class sizes everyone complies with wearing masks all day and we have updated our filtration. For schools who can’t do this, It’s totally dangerous to go back. My anecdotal evidence is masks seem to work!

  25. Juju says:

    Why do they still spread that myth is beyond me. As if kids were somy mystical creatures that for a miracle reason do not contract Corona while in school witha whole bunch of other kids in small class rooms. This is a joke.

  26. Stacy Dresden says:

    I’m not buying that schools don’t facilitate spread. I know there are plenty of great reasons for children to be in school. I think these are just terribly difficult times and there isn’t a good solution for us right now. I’m keeping my kids home with a daily tutor group for my school aged child. I am very privileged so I wouldn’t want to cast aspersions on other families’ choices during this dangerous time in our lives. I will say so many other women my age that I know are acting as if nothing is wrong. They just cannot be inconvenienced.

  27. Marisaura says:

    I’m at teacher in Phoenix. I had covid in June (it sucked). We started virtual in August, went hybrid in October (our numbers weren’t great, but not horrible). We wore masks, socially distances, they kids were great with masks. Besides the fact that it’s a NIGHTMARE for teachers to teach both virtual and in person kids at the same time. We made it work. 50% of my kids stayed home. This lasted 6 weeks. The week of Thanksgiving we shut down again. Out numbers are through the roof (AZ always has to be there best at losing), and we were given a reopening date. The only reason I’m not freaking out is that my district set up vaccines for just it’s employees and my second dose is due 10 days before I return. Is it ideal? No. But we’re getting what we asked for which is more than I can say about other teachers around the country. Will our kids continue to get COVID? Yes, we just had our first child death recorded in AZ. Mom didn’t thought she had a cold. Stay home. Wear a mask. Wash your hands.

    • Sigmund says:

      My colleague’s teenage daughter died from Covid complications. She wasn’t immunocompromised and was involved in sports. It was a total shock to everyone.

  28. outofthecloset says:

    My kid’s class has 32 students. There’s no way in hell I’m sending her back if all 32 are in the same classroom. We live in Brooklyn and there have already been several 2 week shutdowns of her school–and I think there should have been more, because the reporting of infections has been pretty fishy… like claiming twice in one week that there are new infections, but having one new one disappear from the records the next day.

    My kid is miserable being home all the time, but it’s clear that infections are entering the school regularly. No school in person until the numbers go way down.

  29. FHMom says:

    The schools in my town are now closed for education but open for sports. Indoor and outdoor sports. That makes zero sense to me. We started with a hybrid model that worked beautifully until Halloween, when several students attended large parties which became super spreader events. Parents are picketing the Bd of Ed. Teachers are threatening to call in sick if school resumes. It’s a huge mess.

  30. Nicole says:

    My kids have been back to school since August and I have been more than impressed by how the school has managed to handle it, especially in a very conservative area. Neither school has closed due to an outbreak and I haven’t seen an email regarding an infected staff/faculty/student in 2 months. My 1st grader has better handwashing habits than most adults. I have been more than impressed by the distance he automatically puts between him and others, so I think the teachers have been more than diligent about teaching good habits. I can’t sing the highest praise for these awesome people! I remain concerned, but so far, what I’ve been told is that schools see more of parents infecting their kids (particularly those of us that work at the local University) than the other way around.

    Edited to add: I live in a fairly small community and 50% of the kids are back in school. The highest rate for infection come from age group 18-24 which accounts the University students.

  31. Leah says:

    Oh come on now CDC. School aged kids can be carriers and they can even get sick from it.

    When my friend taught middle school she would always get a cold or flu at least one month into the new semester like clockwork. You can’t expect kids to social distance, it’s not their way. Her school has been shuttered since last March and she had to teach her final semester before retirement on the computer. In the neighborhood where the school is located there is currently a very high rate of infection. When the school was open and in session, she had 35 kids each period in her class and even several that came in during lunchtime to sit in the room and visit with her. Her room was larger than the others due to it being a science room but still with 35 kids x five periods in a school day it was crowded.

  32. TeamAwesome says:

    I teach at a community college in a very red, rural area. Every time a student shows up to Zoom and has sniffles and then comes back to tell me a week later they have COVID I praise the heavens and my college president that we aren’t fully back on campus.

  33. salmonpuff says:

    My state is one of the few (the only?) to prioritize vaccinating teachers over 65+ — precisely so we CAN get kids back to school without risking teachers and school staff. (We’ve been virtual since last spring.) It’s a numbers game — there are 150,000 teachers and 750,000 seniors, so if we vaccinated seniors first, teachers wouldn’t be vaccinated until the end of the school year at the current rate. You should hear how up in arms people are! It’s going to take just a few weeks to get the teachers through the line, so seniors don’t have to wait long, but boy are they pissed about it. Of course, they’re also pissed that kids aren’t in school.

    Meanwhile, my teacher in-laws in a state that has been in-person since the fall have all had covid (their teen daughter had it, too), they constantly have a lack of substitutes, and several of their colleagues across the state have died. (To be fair, those teachers may have picked it up in the community and not at school. I don’t know.)

    I hope that people can keep themselves together for the next few months. It is a total drag that there aren’t enough vaccines to get everyone taken care of right now. There are plenty of legit arguments to be had about prioritization without demonizing any group, particularly teachers, many of whom have worked SO hard to reinvent the entire way they teach to keep kids learning during this extraordinary time. Put the blame and anger with the Trump administration and its handling of the pandemic, where it belongs.

    • sassafras says:

      A local doctor I know basically gave all their vaccines to teachers. It might have been against the rules but vaccinating teachers is sooooooo pivotal to a functioning economy around here. If parents want to work, they need school to be functioning. I might even say that teachers should have been above firefighters and police.

      • salmonpuff says:

        That’s our governor’s argument. Get teachers vaccinated, send kids back to school, and get the faltering economy going again. My teacher husband gets his first round tomorrow and will start limited in-person teaching in three weeks.

    • Chip says:

      I think I’m from the same state as you. I was shocked at how upset people got bc teachers got priority! Teachers have to go back to work. They have no choice. The elderly can stay home for a little while longer.

      • salmonpuff says:

        Right?!? Maybe it’s because I’ll be one of the last to get a vaccine that I’m so irritated by the complainers. I’m pretty much resigned to staying home until the summer if not longer…if I were 65+ I’d just be thrilled to have the light at the end of the tunnel so close.

    • Kelly says:

      I absolutely agree. Teachers and others who work in education, including daycare, k to 12, and higher education, all should have been in 1a. If they had been, maybe parents would have some confidence in having kids return for in person classes at least for the 4th quarter this year.

      There have been studies that suggest that how the US is going about the vaccination process, prioritizing seniors, is not the best path towards herd immunity. A better path would be to get groups that interact with others more frequently, including college students vaccinated first. The issue that’s coming up with seniors and vaccinations seems to be their lack of tech savvy, which might have been avoided if more tech aware groups went first.

      For the politicians, that approach would be political suicide because the AARP is a very powerful lobbying group. I’m an essential worker who finally got on my workplace’s list for vaccine distribution. It pisses me off that I have to wait for my vaccine so some seniors who refuse to wear a mask can get theirs. I hope that the seniors who are too selfish to wait and self centered to follow public health guidelines can live with themselves for prolonging the pandemic and taking away a vaccine from people working who actually need them.

      I work in higher education and it’s looking increasingly possible that Fall 2021 could still be mostly virtual instruction because there won’t be enough people vaccinated for herd immunity. So far, most students have been understanding, but both them and their parents are not going to be willing to pay full tuition for another semester with reduced services. Colleges have been hard hit economically during the pandemic. If college students were prioritized in the vaccine process, then maybe Fall 2021 could have more in person instruction and access to services.

      • Tourmaline says:

        Your anger at seniors getting shots before you as a higher ed professional is laughable to me. Look what demographic has by far the hugest number of COViD deaths. Seniors. Age is a huge risk factor for serious illness and death caused by COVID and the risk goes up steeply for each decade of age. Look what the vaccines are shown to do. Reduce serious illness and death. Whether they significantly reduce transmission is still TBD.

        That’s why seniors are prioritized now with limited supplies of vaccines, and college students are not.

  34. Godwina says:

    I’m leery. Where I live, a few weeks after schools reopened, the demographic of infections per age was largest among elementary kids, then high schoolers, and only after that adults. Yeah, causation/correlation. But still.

  35. Lady Keller says:

    It’s a tough issue for parents. My heart goes out to any working parent trying to figure this out. I lost my job back in March, which sucks, but my husband makes enough money that I can stay home and focus on the kids. I put my older son in preschool for his mental health (and mine as well). 6 kids with 2 teachers and lots of precautions, sounds pretty safe. After about 2 weeks we got a call that we’d been exposed, had to isolate and get tested. We didn’t catch covid, but I pulled him out after that. The stress was too much to have to worry about it every time I dropped him off.

    Knowing what small kids are like I find these stories so suspicious. I can’t put on a mask to get my hair cut because that’s too risky, but 30 kids in a classroom totally safe.

  36. AmunetMaat says:

    A lot of educators in my neck of the woods are upset over this article. There is a lot going on in that study was is based on stipulations; i.e. low metrics in your area, schools with proper ventilation systems, people following the original CDC guidelines, this being done in a rural small area, the study being done with numbers are low, etc. It just isn’t something the CDC should be releasing right now. My state barely has enough vaccines for people to get the 1st round, they may not have enough for the 2nd dose. We are behind schedule because 75+ & healthcare workers were the 1st group and now it should be 65+ but they don’t have enough.

    In my district, k-5 are back full-time 5 days a week to face to face instruction. We have so many cases/breakouts in schools, without all K-12 of our students being in. The numbers on our school dashboard are not being properly reported. Teachers have to quarantine but we are no longer receiving COVID Sick leave and being told to only quarantine if required due to a positive test. This to me is just a form of propaganda to get schools back open even though it is not safe.

  37. Chip says:

    My 5th grader went back this week and my 8th grader starts next week. I had mixed feeling about sending them back, but neither is doing well academically via distance learning. It just doesn’t work for them. They’ll each be 2 days in person and 3 at home.

    My son was so happy after his 1st day back! It was a joy to see. He said the masks and other precautions didn’t bother him at all. Seeing that his excitement about learning is back was such a relief!

    If I was a school administrator I would’ve kept them home longer, but as a mom, I have a much happier kid than I did last week.

  38. TiredMomof2 says:

    Yeah, my kid’s HS goes back full-time, F2F next week. He’s not going back. He was virtual for the first semester and will be so for his last semester of school. It is far from perfect, but he is ok with this. We have as our goal to not catch covid or contribute to anyone else catching it. I don’t trust our school district or the County Health Department, and, sadly, I don’t trust a lot of people around me. I realize we have huge differences in what I think is risky.

  39. Ohpioneer says:

    I work in a small private school in Ohio. We’ve been open since August. In that timeframe we’ve had one student test positive ( and that was during Winter break so no one was in contact with that student ) and zero staff members test positive although we had two quarantine due to being in contact with someone who was positive. Mask wearing, plexiglass dividers at desks and cafeteria tables, and constant reminders to socially distance are working for us.

  40. ennie says:

    WhereI live it’s not only the schools, but that most of the students move in public transport, with all that it entails. nt everyone uses the masks, many put their nose out. It is a given that sts will share anything, even lollypops, water bottles, you name it.

  41. GuestwithCat says:

    I’m so sick of this roller coaster. Please excuse me while I rant, knowing we are more privileged than most yet still on the verge of tears and stressed out every day. Every day I have to talk my daughter back from the cliff.

    I’ve watched my 16 year old sophomore daughter suffer mentally not due to the isolation but because her private high school can’t maintain a consistent policy. First was the massive adjustment to distance learning. But the school experimented until the found the right mix of scheduling and break times and most students began thriving again. They acknowledged Zoom fatigue and allowed for an hour lunch and held a no homework policy to give students a break from technology.

    But the president of the school and the other top administration were always hellbent on getting bodies back into classrooms because they’d invested in technology and equipment and by golly they were going to use this stuff.

    So even when our numbers soared sky high, they insisted on going to a hybrid model, even though the county advised not schools be open. They pivoted then to prioritizing the kids who returned. So homework made a comeback and lunch went down to 20-30 minutes. Some teachers never really got the concept of the effects of Zoom fatigue so they went back to their normal curriculum and standards. Even though students were still at home trying to puzzle things out without ready access to staff. My straight A student struggled. Her confidence and self esteem plummeted. Her dad and I have had our hands full helping her. School counseling has been shallow magazine style platitudes.

    Communication between administration and teachers and from teachers to students and parents remained capricious.

    My husband and I did try to find a better school situation but these problems and worse were everywhere. My best friend was furious I didn’t take my daughter to a different school and got tired of hearing me stress about it and stress over my daughter stressing, so she dumped me. Meanwhile my husband was trying to save other jobs, then his own.

    Now all of a sudden this CDC shit comes out. I know the school administration is going to be jumping on this to force the kids completely back like nothing is wrong. My daughter is having a meltdown because she’s terrified that normal academic standards and practices are going to be implemented as if everything is normal and she won’t be up for it because she’s suffered so much under the hybrid situation that at times seemed unnecessarily punitive to students who remained home full time.

    None of us liked the tone of the communication that came from the administration. There was some clear resentment that not everyone wanted to participate in returning to campus under the hybrid system. I empathize that the administration has many competing needs to account for and so we’ve never complained to anyone at the school. But it hurts that they made it very clear they resent and feel punitive to the families who decided to opt out.

    This is long and I don’t expect anyone to read it. I just needed to express that there’s another side to this in addition to the students who suffer mentally under the isolation. I feel for them as well.

    But I’ve watched my kid’s needs tossed around like a sock in the wash. We believed that the rest of the school year would at least remain as it is. This sudden pivot is too much to take psychologically, and logistically a bit of a nightmare as well. We let all but one automobile go without maintenance to cut expenses, thinking we could get the batteries replaced and the cars serviced after life returns to a safer level in a post vaccinated world. Now I don’t have a car in drivable condition so I will have to deal with that.

    Meanwhile we already had Corona at the start of this nightmare because the CDC at the time said masks weren’t advised. Forgive me if I don’t take CDC guidance as gospel right now. Look up the history of CDC pivoting on its stance on the efficacy and recommendations to wear masks to see how they rushed advice through.

    TL/DR: we can’t take these sudden pivots anymore.

    • Nikki* says:

      I read it and am sorry it’s been so tough on everyone. Hang in there; things WILL turn a corner.

      • GuestwithCat says:

        Nikki* thank you for the kindness and thank you for reading my rant. I apologize for the poor writing. I had a migraine starting at the time. My poor kid gets headaches every day now due to being stuck in front of screens from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. Homework wasn’t so bad during real school because they spent the day in physical school. Eyes aren’t meant to be fixed on a screen all day. Especially not young eyes. My daughter wasn’t one to spend hours planted in one place playing on electronic devices.

        As bad as it’s been for us, her close friend with ADHD has had it so much worse. We get through it by remembering we may have different varieties of struggles and sometimes even competing needs, but we we are indeed all in this together.

        But it’s really REALLY hard dealing with the people who carry on like there’s nothing unusual going on! And when some of those same people have a say in the policies that impact the rest of us…oh goodness the mental health strain is through the roof.

    • Amy Too says:

      I have a high schooler who is also full time virtual while other kids are hybrid. And it’s rough. I feel for you and your daughter. My son is 14 but your daughter is 16–peak hormones, peak identity issues, peak emotions. When everyone was virtual, they had Zoom instruction from 8-12 then the idea was that you did your homework. They had fridays off from instruction so they could do their leftover homework. The school claimed to be trying to minimize electronic time for students, but all the homework is online at the computer so my student was basically on his device from 8-3 every day. They handed out tablets to all the kids but the tablets are really slow and can’t keep up with the Zoom videos and you can’t really have two things open at once which makes doing assignments while watching Zoom instruction difficult. So we let our son use the computer but then we see him trying to play games and such.

      Now they’re doing hybrid and he’s still 100% virtual. School is from 7-2:30. The idea is that they do 4 classes a day for over an hour each class. Teachers are supposed to teach to the in person people and broadcast that over zoom for up to 45 minutes then dismiss the zoom kids to go do the assignment. To minimize electronic time. But all the assignments are still online. Even the in person kids all have tablets and their assignments are online too, but at least they can just look at the teacher rather than their screen for those first 45 minutes. My son gets 25 minutes off for lunch. He’s now looking at a screen from 7-5PM, because he can’t get all his assignments done during the asynchronous part of each class. Sometimes the teachers forget to dismiss the virtual kids and just keep talking for the whole 90 minutes and then assign homework for them to do later.

      He is online, looking at a screen, sitting in a chair for 10 hours a day just for school and then he wants to be able to play computer games and chat with his friends on the Discord they’ve set up to keep in touch. And I have to severely limit that because he already has so much school electronic time. And I feel bad about that because then he’s not getting the socializing and playtime he wants. And his body seems like it’s atrophying a bit. He’s just a lump, weaker than before and with less stamina. It’s very concerning.

      We’ve also had issues with foreign language class, especially. It’s very hard to learn Spanish when you only have it twice a week and most of the zoom time is the teacher explaining the homework (in English). There’s not a lot of practice speaking and all the homework is written/typed and because he’s on the computer, it’s easy for my son to just Google translate things he forgot rather than think about it or ask the teacher. When I took french in school, our teacher spoke to us only in French from day 1. I learned so much that way. But his teacher only speaks English and just gives them these written assignments. The exam was speaking to the teacher in Spanish over zoom and he got a D. Because he never speaks Spanish and hasn’t actually learned the vocab, he just looks at the vocab sheets or googles words when he works.

      A lot of the teachers seem to spend their instructional Zoom time just going over the homework from the day before and talking about the homework that will be assigned for that night. They’re replacing lectures and instruction with more homework and more reading/note taking assignments. My son misses learning. He feels like he’s just doing school stuff, not actually learning anything or being able to have conversations with his teacher.

    • Kelly says:

      I work in higher ed, and there have been similar issues. The campus higher ups thought that having a hybrid instructional approach of larger classes and lectures being done online and smaller discussion sections, labs, and studio classes in person was doable for the fall semester. That lasted for 2 weeks before everything went all virtual due to rising covid numbers, due to no mass testing plan and college students usual behavior. Some in person classes resumed beginning of October, mostly labs and studio classes.

      Now, they are trying to do mass testing and surveillance for everyone who is on campus, both students and staff. It’s not going well. The hard enforcement of the program, including restricting access, has been delayed 2 weeks due to multiple factors, including results taking longer than 24 hours, waiting too long to test results, thus forcing people to have to take a 2nd test, a poorly designed app, and inconsistent enforcement across campus. They finally got a good public education campaign going about how to spit and drool property into the test tubes.

      As staff, I have to test weekly. I had to do two tests the week of MLK day because my first test wasn’t recorded. The second test later in the week took less than 12 hours to get back. I’m now over 24 hours from my test for this week and worried that I’ll have to go back into campus this weekend to test again if I don’t see results by tomorrow morning. I’m relieved that it’s still a soft test and I don’t actually have to enforce the access policies this week at work.

      I should be getting my vaccine fairly soon. My supervisor had to supply HR with a list of people who have student facing roles so our HR office could get a list to campus health services for vaccine scheduling. That’s going to be somewhat of a relief, especially with the likelihood that the more aggressive strains are already on campus.

  42. MommaDawna says:

    Tell that to to emails I get every other day from me kid’s school district about 5 or more new cases. While schools are doing every thing they can to keep children and staff safe, once these people go home and out and about, if they are not being safe they are posing a risk to themselves and others. Both of my boys are completely remote for the entire school year.

    Oh and my family got covid over the holidays even though we are super safe and adhered to the guidelines. We got it from an extended family’ member who got it from a friend who chose to not follow guidelines.

  43. sassafras says:

    Just adding in my $.02 from a Texas suburb. They offered online and in-person because the Texas Education Agency required school districts to all offer an in-person option. A large percentage of our district chose in-person so the district had to make a lot of changes to reduce class sizes. My kids are high schoolers and the senior class basically all decided to do online (because WHY NOT) so that reduced the high school by over 1/4 the students right there.

    The high school has had the highest rate of positives but it’s because… high schoolers. They’re out and about and socializing/ working/ playing sports still and if the parents won’t stop it no one else can really stop that absent more stringent community rules.

    Our admin/staff and lower grade numbers are low. There’s a certain amount of under-reporting probably, but overall, I feel good about the techniques our district has used to stay open. I hope the Biden Admin will facilitate “best practices” conversations around the country. What’s worked in Texas can work elsewhere, I’m sure. (I’m shocked that I’m saying that, but I give due credit where it’s due.)

  44. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Our district remains at the red threat level and teaches in person and virtual. Each week, I’m notified how many students and/or teachers tested positive. And every week since the school year began, I’ve gotten emails. As long as we’re in the red, and students and teachers continue to test positive, my son stays home.

  45. Nikki* says:

    I totally agree with all the folks who said in-person schooling will spread it, because of how the kids then gather OUTSIDE of school. Sorry to say, we are a nation of idiots. My deepest gratitude and kudos to ALL TEACHERS & HEALTH CARE WORKERS in this mess. Hang in there a bit longer everyone; better times are coming…

  46. Kkat says:

    You know how I and my family got Covid back at the end of March? From my niece (In high school)we live with who got it at school from her friends. This was after they had already limited school to a couple hours 2-3 times a week.
    Back when there were far fewer cases in California than there is now.

    If they physically open schools back up this year in california when our numbers are Sooooo much higher, it will be a shit show.

  47. Amy Too says:

    The issue for me isn’t so much sending my son back into the classroom where I know they’ll do a good job with cleaning and socially distancing and masking, but the fact that he’s in 9th grade and all high schoolers have to ride the city bus to get to school. No school buses for high school kids anymore. So I’m worried that the city bus may not be able to enforce masking for a bunch of adults who may be riding vs teachers who have authority over and are respected by their students being able to enforce. Also, this is his first year riding the city bus and I have no idea what route he would take, how long it would be… I think he would need to transfer at the downtown main bus station and who knows what’s happening there. I don’t feel comfortable having him face that new experience for the first time and possibly needing help from someone (who might need to lean over a map with him or talk closely with him so he can hear in a crowded bus station) during covid. So he’s been home since last February and actually doesn’t mind it too much because he likes not having to get dressed all the way and being able to play computer games between classes and he talks to his friends in a chat they’ve set up.