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As schools grapple with reopening plans across the country, education leaders, teachers unions, and parents clash over what they believe to be the safest path forward. A recent study offers new insights about how school impacts public health.

Since the beginning of this pandemic, experts and educators have feared that open schools would spread the coronavirus further, which is why so many classrooms remain closed. But a new, nationwide study suggests reopening schools may be safer than previously thought, at least in communities where the virus is not already spreading out of control.

The study comes from REACH, the National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice, at Tulane University. Up to this point, researchers studying the public health effects of school reopening have focused largely on positivity rates. As in, did the rate of positive coronavirus tests among kids or communities increase after schools reopened?

Read this full article in NPR: Where Is It Safe To Reopen Schools? New Research Offers Answers

As we experience some of the most intense challenges our country has ever faced, students are watching. Now, educators across the US are tasked with explaining dramatic events as tensions unfold in real time. This article shares resources for how to navigate these issues and support your students.

The dramatic events of Jan. 6 and their continuing fallout demand sustained and careful classroom attention from teachers. But there is no complete roadmap available to them yet.

What makes teaching about the insurrection on Capitol Hill especially complicated is that it’s not a spontaneous event, but rather the product of multiple factors and trends: political polarization, a disintegrating news infrastructure and the rise of social media, a backlash to recent discourse about criminal justice, and racism, among many things.

Nor were the day’s events entirely without historical precedent. Disputed elections have occurred at several points in American history, and there has been at least one other attempted insurgency.

It’s OK not to have everything all figured out immediately, said Emma Humphries, the chief education officer at iCivics, the civics curriculum provider and advocacy group. At least in the beginning, teachers should trust their instincts and take steps to make sure students feel safe. But longer term?

Read this full article in EdWeek: How to Teach the U.S. Capitol Attack: Dozens of Resources to Get You Started

The pandemic has put a strain on all of our school communities.  Public health measures have transformed the educational experience to protect our kids from the virus.  But amid virtual classes and isolation from peers, concerns are growing over a crisis that’s not so obvious- our students’ mental health.  

If you or a loved one need help, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1(800)273-8255. For more information on suicide prevention, please visit Safe and Sound Schools’ resource library.

The sounds in her home can become unbearable some days. Heather Wendling will sometimes hear the footsteps of her sons walking in the dining room and think it’s her daughter. She will hear the front door creak when her husband comes home after work and wonder whether it’s her daughter. She will hear the phone ring and know it’s not her daughter, but perhaps another friend or volleyball parent calling to offer condolences or help.

When it all becomes too much, Wendling will sometimes head out to the backyard and sit on the swing set her daughter, London Bruns, used to play on as a little girl. “You can feel her energy there,” Wendling said, and when she is rocking back and forth, she wrestles with the questions of how London could have taken her own life at her home in Ridgefield, Wash., in the early morning hours of Sept. 21. She was 13 years old.

Read the full article: Washington Post: A Hidden Crisis

Additional Resources:

Over the weekend, the CDC director and FDA gave final approval for emergency use authorization of the first COVID-19 vaccine in the US.  As questions surrounding efficacy and distribution arise, some school and public health officials say vaccination requirements may be on the way.

Note: The recent authorization is for people 16 and older. 

…pediatricians and school and public health officials are bracing themselves for and bristling against the onslaught of questioners asking the one thing they don’t want to talk about. At least not yet, anyway.

Will children be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to return to school?

“You hear the questions about whether vaccines should be mandatory or not,” says Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers. “That’s not the question to be asking right now.”

“The questions to be asking right now are, ‘Is it effective? Is it going to be free? Is it widely accessible?'” she says. “What we’re not doing right now – regardless of what I personally think – we’re not weighing in on whether a vaccine should be mandatory or not right now because that’s not an appropriate question right now.”

The caveats of “right now,” “yet” and “at this moment” do a lot of heavy lifting in conversations about immunization requirements, and that’s because the answer is complicated and not as straightforward as parents would probably like. Not only does it depend on where families live, as different states have different vaccination requirements for schools, but it also depends on drug companies enrolling more children in their trials in order to amass enough data to show – as most pediatricians and public health experts fully expect – that it’s efficacious and safe in children.

Read this full article in US News: No Vaccine, No School?

Additional Resources about the Pfizer vaccine:

Teachers are utilizing grief training to help students bearing tremendous amounts of grief and trauma.

During a standard history lesson this year, a student in Alexandra Hinkson-Dutrevil’s fourth grade class spontaneously burst into tears and revealed that his young cousin, who lived with him, was on a ventilator after having contracted Covid-19.

The student then revealed to the class on Zoom that he and the rest of his family had to leave the home they shared with the cousin in Frederiksted on the U.S. Virgin Islands to quarantine and that he wasn’t sure he would ever return to his home or see his cousin again.

Under normal circumstances, Hinkson-Dutrevil would have taken the child aside or referred him to another staff member so she could continue her instruction. Instead, she let the student finish, abandoned her lesson and began a discussion allowing other students to discuss their emotions about the pandemic.

It was a strategy she learned in a grief training program for teachers that she took a few weeks previously.

Read this full article on NBC News: How grief training is helping educators manage pandemic-related trauma in schools

 

Ransomware is a kind of malicious software that encrypts a victim’s files.  Attackers will typically demand ransom in exchange for restored access to those files.  Therefore, understanding how ransomware technology evolves is key for school leaders to remain vigilant and protect against it.

The public schools in Baltimore County, Md., will remain closed Monday and Tuesday as officials respond to a cyberattack that forced the district to cancel remote classes for its 115,000 students just before the Thanksgiving holiday, officials said.

The attack, first detected late Tuesday night, affected the district’s websites and remote learning programs, as well as its grading and email systems, officials told WBAL-TV.

Schools were closed Wednesday, one day earlier than scheduled for Thanksgiving. On Saturday, the district announced on Twitter that classes would be closed for two additional days on Monday and Tuesday due “to the recent ransomware attack.”

Read this full article in the NY Times: Ransomware Attack Closes Baltimore County Public Schools