The pandemic pushed child hunger to record levels- even in the wealthiest areas of the US. Now, there is a growing concern that cafeterias will be hit hard by supply chain issues, labor shortages, and other challenges as schools welcome students back this Fall. Read on for more.

Schools are struggling to secure food for student breakfasts and lunches ahead of classrooms’ planned reopening in the fall.

Some cafeterias are cutting menu choices as food suppliers face labor shortages and transportation challenges that are adding costs and limiting supplies. Food distributors and school officials say they expect to run low on everything from canned fruit to lunch trays, and some worry that the lack of options will deter students from getting meals at school.

Across the country, school cafeterias are preparing to welcome back students after running hybrid or remote learning operations for much of the past school year, when they offered prepackaged or to-go food. Many now find themselves at the center of supply-chain woes gripping the broader food industry: Manufacturers are cutting flavors or halting production because of capacity problems, while some distributors dropped deliveries to schools. Some school districts are struggling to hire cooks.

Read this full article in the Wall Street Journal: ‘Supply-Chain Woes Come to School Cafeterias’

As the Delta variant brings rising concern around COVID-19, communities are focusing on how the strain will impact reopening efforts for schools.  Should you be worried about the variant?  How quickly could the virus spread among kids who aren’t yet eligible to be vaccinated? Read on for answers to the biggest questions about the Delta variant.

If you are fully vaccinated and sending your kids off to camp or inviting their friends to sleep over, you might almost — almost — feel like the nightmare that was the COVID-19 pandemic is finally in the rearview mirror.

But dare to share this sentiment on a work call or with other parents on the playground and chances are some killjoy is going to bring up the dreaded Delta variant.

Delta originated in India and scientists estimate that it is 60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant from the United Kingdom, which in turn is 50% more transmissible than the original coronavirus strain.

Read this full article in the Los Angeles Times: What the Delta variant means for unvaccinated kids

The CDC released new COVID guidelines for schools. The agency’s advice on mask-wearing, vaccinations, and social distancing comes amid concerns about the Delta variant. Read on for the biggest suggestions that will impact schools reopening this Fall.

With less than a month to go before many schools begin reopening for the fall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday released new guidelines for preventing Covid-19 transmission in schools.

The guidelines outline numerous strategies that schools can take to help keep students, teachers and staff members safe, including masking, weekly screening testing and social distancing. But the agency also stressed that schools should fully reopen even if they were not able to put in effect all of these measures.

The agency also left much of the decision-making up to local officials, urging them to consider community transmission rates, vaccination coverage and other factors. This approach won praise from some experts, who said that this more nuanced approach makes sense at this stage of the pandemic — but criticism from others, who said that state and local officials were not equipped to make those judgments and needed clearer guidance. Here are answers to some common questions about the new guidance.

Read this full article in the New York Times: What Parents Need to Know About the C.D.C.’s Covid School Guidelines

You’ve heard of the digital divide during the pandemic. Now that schools are finally reopening for Summer school programs, there’s another problem plaguing the millions of students trying to learn – the heat. Read on for more.

Human bodies react swiftly when they overheat. Blood rushes to the skin, trying to find cool air. Sweat seeps out of the skin and evaporates, dissipating body heat. But these processes have a cost: they reduce blood circulation, which means our most important organ, the brain, gets less blood.

“And with reduced brain blood flow, we have reduced brain function,” said Tony Wolf, a researcher at Penn State University who studies how the body reacts to heat.In short, heat can lower our cognition. But it doesn’t take a PhD to know this. Just ask middle school students.

Researchers have long known about heat’s profound impact on the human body – and found a pretty effective way to combat it: air conditioning. But nearly a century later a huge portion of American classrooms are still sweltering hot and don’t have air conditioning. And new research is showing that the ramifications are devastating: the more hot school days there are, the less students learn – and the effect is noticeably worse for students of color.

Read this full article in the Guardian: ‘How the US lets hot school days sabotage learning’

More than a quarter of a million children have been exposed to gun violence during school hours since the massacre 22 years ago at Columbine High School near Denver. It has left teachers, parents and students dreading what’s to come this fall when nearly all children are expected to go back to their classrooms. Read on for more.

Months had passed since the sixth-grader decided he wanted to die, and now the day that he hoped would be his last had come. The boy snuck into his father’s bedroom, reaching into a dresser drawer for the loaded magazine and 9mm handgun he’d been told never to touch. He hid them both inside his backpack, then left for school.

“I hope my death makes more senses then my life,” the 12-year-old had already jotted in a spiral-bound notebook of his plan to commit suicide-by-cop. He would have shot himself if he hadn’t feared offending God, he later said in an interview he and his father gave to The Washington Post. Forcing a police officer to kill him didn’t seem as bad. “That way it wasn’t a sin,” he explained.

Read this full article in the Washington Post: ‘As school shootings surge, a sixth-grader tucks his dad’s gun in his backpack’

Before the pandemic, about 3.3 million students attended mandatory or optional summer school programs in 2019. This year is expected to far exceed that number, with reopenings underway, school districts drawing on federal aid, and families looking to make up for lost learning. Read on for more.

With her three teenagers vaccinated against COVID-19, Aja Purnell-Mitchell left it up to them to decide whether to go back to school during summer break.

The decision was unanimous: summer school.

“Getting them back into it, helping them socialize back with their friends, maybe meet some new people, and, of course, pick up the things that they lacked on Zoom,” the Durham County, North Carolina, mother said, ticking off her hopes for the session ahead, which will be the first time her children have been in the classroom since the outbreak took hold in the spring of 2020.

Across the U.S., more children than ever before could be in classrooms for summer school this year to make up for lost learning during the outbreak, which caused monumental disruptions in education. School districts nationwide are expanding their summer programs and offering bonuses to get teachers to take part.

Read this full article in the Chicago Tribune: ‘More children than ever could be in classrooms for summer school, making up for lost time during pandemic’

Since George Floyd’s death in May 2020, some school districts have eliminated or reduced their school police presence – a change that would affect about 1.65 million students across the country. As some schools evaluate and take action on school resource officers, teacher diversity, anti-racist training, and other related issues, the pandemic school year provides little data on the actual effectiveness and safety of the current approaches. Many districts are still wrestling with what exactly to replace school resource officer programs with that both keeps classrooms safe and doesn’t result in profiling aimed at Black students. Read on for more about how schools are attempting to strike a balance between racial justice and the reality of safety threats.

“Just over a year ago, the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer was captured in a nine-and-a-half minute video that has irrevocably changed the contours of K-12 schooling.

Education Week reporters reached out to dozens of districts that overhauled their school safety programs in the wake of last summer’s protests for racial justice. Even in those districts that pulled police officers from schools, complex questions about safety remain.”

Read this full article in EdWeek: ‘Defunded, Removed, and Put in Check: School Police a Year After George Floyd’

Cases of coronavirus in the US are going down, signs of pre-pandemic life are emerging, and students are returning to school across the country. However, as the hidden pandemic- the mental health crisis- continues to impact children, adolescents, and teens more than any other age group, school resources are in short supply. Read on for more.

Caden McKnight was elected student body president of his Las Vegas high school in February 2020.
A year later he was in his room, attending a Zoom meeting of the Clark County School District Board of Trustees, pleading with board members to reopen the district’s schools.

Just being together in person and having a normal routine, McKnight said, would help kids cope with mental health struggles. He told the board members about his own grief over the death of his friend, Mia, who died just after Valentine’s Day this year from an accidental drug overdose.

“I knew her since I was 11,” he said of Mia, who had been his date to a homecoming dance. “I grew up with her and she got to see me grow up. It’s tough as a 17-year-old kid when these people around me are dying. I love my family, but I have no outlet to express how I’m feeling the way I used to when I was at school with teachers and friends.”

Read this full article in USA Today: ‘Students returning to school after COVID-19 facing scarce mental health resources’

Here at Safe and Sound Schools, we’ve been keeping a close eye on Illinois’ Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) Act. The legislation will require schools there to teach Asian American history in the US, and is now heading to the governor’s desk. Read on for more details.

Illinois is poised to become the first state to require that public schools teach their students the history of Asian Americans, who have endured an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Illinois Senate passed the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History Act, known as the TEAACH Act, by a unanimous vote of 57-0 on Tuesday. The legislation, introduced in January by Illinois State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, D-Glenview, passed the state House in April. The House has to approve a Senate amendment before it will head to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk for his signature.

The bill would require every elementary and high school in the state to devote a unit of curriculum to the history of Asian Americans in the United States, including in Illinois and the Midwest. School districts would have until the start of the 2022-2023 school year to comply.

Read this full article in US News: ‘Illinois Tackles Anti-Asian Hate With the TEAACH Act’

As vaccine distribution accelerates reopening, schools across the country are preparing to return to full-time, in-person learning next school year. But how well do COVID safety measures in the classroom protect students, teachers, and their families from the virus? Here’s a breakdown of the research.

While relatively few schools experienced widescale outbreaks during the pandemic, the return to full-time, in-person instruction will inevitably increase students’ exposure to the coronavirus.

But the number and kind of protections schools put in place now can make a big difference in the risk that those students will bring the illness home to family members, according to a study published last month in the journal Science. Even as more adults and older students become vaccinated, the study suggests no one safety measure will be a silver bullet when it comes to preventing COVID-19.

“When we talk about the risks from in-person schooling, our tendency is to think about it in terms of risk of transmission in the classroom,” said Justin Lessler, the lead author of the study and an associate professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “But really there are a whole host of activities that go along with in-person schooling, including the transport to and from school. All of the ancillary activities can have as much impact on transmission as what’s going on in the classroom. So when we think about school, we should be thinking about the whole picture.”

Read this full article in EdWeek: ‘Masks, Tracking, Desk Shields: How Much Do School Measures Reduce Families’ COVID-19 Risk?’