Some Public Schools Won't Reopen, What Will Parents Do?

Mish

The Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second largest, will start the school year totally online.

The LA public school year starts on August 18, Entirely Online. 

Some school districts are getting skittish with in-person learning and delaying it as coronavirus cases surge across the U.S. Some districts are pushing off school start dates by up to several weeks, while others like LAUSD plan to start the school year with online-learning only.

“The skyrocketing infection rates of the past few weeks make it clear the pandemic is not under control,” said a joint statement issued by LAUSD and the San Diego Unified School District, which also will start the school year online. 

Both districts said they would continue planning for a return to in-person learning in the new academic year as public-health conditions allow. They plan to launch online learning on their originally scheduled opening dates: on Aug. 18 for Los Angeles and Aug. 31 for San Diego.

President Trump has demanded school districts open to in-person learning or risk losing federal funding. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has also pushed for reopening.

Trumpian Bluff

By what authority can Trump cut funding for schools that open online?

His threat is another obvious Trumpian bluff that is headed nowhere.

Trump's economic advisor Larry Kudlow tried the carrot approach.

“I think the president would be willing to consider additional funding for state and local governments if the schools do reopen, so that’s perhaps an incentive,” Mr. Kudlow told Fox News on Monday.

Opening Safely

Social Distancing in Schools

School Districts get Recommendations from Health Experts

One look at the picture is all it should take to the the foolishness of the ideas. Schools would need three to five times the number of teachers to provide adequate spacing. 

The Case for Reopening Schools

The Wall Street Journal editorial board makes The Case for Reopening Schools.

The evidence—scientific, health and economic—argues overwhelmingly for schools to open in the fall. Start with the relative immunity of young children to the disease, which should reassure parents.

Only two children under age 18 have died in Chicago—fewer than were killed in shootings in a recent weekend. In New York City, 0.03% of children under age 18 have been hospitalized for Covid and 7.5 in one million have died. The death rate for those over 75 is more than 2,200-times higher than for those under 18.

Parents and teachers understandably worry that children might spread the virus. But a recent retrospective study of schools in Northern France, from February before lockdowns, found that “despite three introductions of the virus into three primary schools, there appears to have been no further transmission of the virus to other pupils or teaching and non-teaching staff of the schools.”

Teens appear to be more infectious. Yet schools that have reopened in most countries, including Germany, Singapore, Norway, Denmark and Finland, haven’t experienced outbreaks. Some schools in Israel had outbreaks last month after class sizes were increased, but most infections in both teachers and students were mild.

In any case, these risks can be managed as the Trump Administration has suggested in its guidance to schools: Space desks six feet apart, stagger class periods, make kids wear face coverings when possible, keep them in the same cohort, and have them eat, play and learn outdoors as much as possible. Teachers can also wear face shields, and schools can use plastic barriers in higher-grade level classrooms to separate them from kids.

Two Unanswered Questions

  1. Where are schools supposed to get the space or the teachers to move desks six feet apart?
  2. What are parents who would normally be working supposed to do? 

An office at home with kids running around is not like an office without the kids. Online schools will be a major disruption for many parents.

Mish

Comments (110)
No. 1-29
Augustthegreat
Augustthegreat

Other countries opened schools without major infections because they had virus under control, while the U.S. is in an inferno now.

Augustthegreat
Augustthegreat

Congress controls the education funds, not tRump. Or this country has changed into a kingdom?

bradw2k
bradw2k

My kids' high school is considering in-person 2 days per week, 3 online. Unless the experts (who? I don't know, who's in charge anymore?!) say not to, then fully online. Since parts of Cali are going fully remote, I assume Oregon will end up doing same because our governor's form of leadership is to do whatever Cali did a few weeks ago. In which case it will be tempting to just take online community college classes, because I expect online high school to be a complete waste of time.

Jojo
Jojo

Schools have developed as modern day babysitters for at work parents. So no schools, means parents can't return to work, which might mean that they wind up getting fired or else doing what was done in the old days, putting the oldest kid, even if they were only say 11 or 12, in charge, while the single parent went to work.

Then I listened to a discussion during the day about how child abuse cases were down significantly, so the thought was that kids are still being abused in normal numbers but now there isn't anyone to catch it, since it is normally the teacher that would do so.

And then there is the fact that many kids get a significant portion of their nutrition requirements at schools.

Yup, the politicians opened a real Pandora's box when they chose to close the economy down for this relatively minor virus. I think that there is a good chance that many politicians up for reelection are going to be voted out and that Republican candidates, who generally are less supportive of economic disruptions will come out ahead in Nov, at least on the state and local levels.

numike
numike

yayaya everyone is a virologist
Unfortunately, the truth is that we have only a rudimentary knowledge of several aspects of infection spread, including on one critical aspect of the SARS-CoV-2 virus: how THIS virus transmits

Worth reading in full:

numike
numike

‘I’m scared to death.’ As Manatee district finalizes reopening plans, teachers are worried https://www.bradenton.com/news/coronavirus/article244191387.html

njbr
njbr

A Utah (!) school district is providing teachers with a movable plexiglas shield to move with them (but they don't have enough for all so lottery time!)

njbr
njbr

Hmmm...if only there were somewhere where we could look for other's experiencing in re-opening....

JERUSALEM—Israel’s unchecked resurgence of COVID-19 was propelled by the abrupt May 17 decision to reopen all schools, medical and public health officials have told The Daily Beast.

“We know Israelis have terrible discipline, but now, it’s the leadership. ”
— Galia Rahav, Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv

The assessment of Israel’s trajectory has direct bearing on the heated debate currently underway in the United States between President Donald Trump, who is demanding a nationwide reopening of schools for what appear to be largely political reasons, and health authorities who caution it could put the wider population at risk.

Importantly, on May 17 in Israel it appeared the virus not only was under control, but defeated. Israel reported only 10 new cases of COVID-19 in the entire country that day. In the U.S. the debate often is about reopening schools where the disease is not only not in decline, but surging.

On Sunday, for instance, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, “There’s nothing in the data that suggests that kids being in school is in any way dangerous.” But that is not the case in Israel, where the data from June, the last month for which there is a full set of statistics, appear all too clear.

The road from anti-coronavirus paradigm to rampant infection in this country of 9 million people followed two months of almost total lockdown. May 17 also was the day Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his former rival Benny Gantz swore in their “corona emergency government,” whose sole declared purpose is to fight the spread of the virus. Netanyahu's decree that the nation’s entire school system would reopen was a political flourish to signal everything was under control.

The announcement followed a more cautious experiment of several weeks in which only children in the first, second and third grades were brought back to classrooms, and taught in small, non-intersecting groups called “capsules.”

Dr. Hagai Levine, an epidemiologist at the Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and chairman of the Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians, said: “There was no measurable increase in contagion” while the capsules for young children were being tried out.

The association even offered the government an investigation into school-based infections of COVID-19, but was turned down.

Then, Levine says, “contrary to our advice, the government decided to open the entire system all at once on May 17. What happened next was entirely predictable.”

On June 3, two weeks after schools opened, over 244 students and staff were found positive for COVID-19.

According to the education ministry, 2,026 students, teachers and staff have contracted COVID-19, and 28,147 are in quarantine due to possible contagion.

Just in the first two weeks of July, 393 kindergartens and schools open for summer programs have been shuttered due to cases of COVID-19.

IA Hawkeye in SoCal
IA Hawkeye in SoCal

I work in L.A. County, and for people with kids in school it is a mess. Daycare is a huge burden right now. And just a few miles south, in Orange County, they just announced school will be starting as normal, no masks, full classrooms.

MiTurn
MiTurn

I think that this sort of thing will give a boost to the 'home school' movement, regardless of how any one feels about it. Our granddaughters had to remain home the last quarter of last year, working with their teachers through a combination of online classes and drop-off/pick-up school work. My daughter-in-law, a very regimented person, had the girls work all morning every day and they were done by lunch with all the work. The entire process was so enjoyable, that she bought additional material online to continue through the summer. It is now part of the kids' every day routine.

She might keep them home. She is an at-home mom, so she can. But this has been successful so far. I am not endorsing homeschooling, but I can see where some families might use this quarantine as an impetus to give it a go.

njbr
njbr

You know what, this is really f'd up.

Of course conditions vary around the country. Local school boards, if they received good epidemiological advice, and followed it, would be the ones able to monitor the day-to-day progress of the local epidemic and be prepared to react swiftly. But of course not, these are the same groups that sway with every breeze of politics so you really can't rely on them so their most likely course will be to persist full-open until the epidemic is fully embedded in the local community.

And, according to what happened in Israel, the swing from very few cases to lots of cases happened in a month. One month! Do the school boards even meet that often? One meeting a month--first meeting, OK let's open--second meeting, looks like there are some cases---third meeting, shut it down its out of control!

Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett

The School Board for my district had a meeting last night ... discussing options (kinda late in the day ...).

One plan had kids in two groups. "A" kids go to school Mon / Tues. "B" kids go Thurs / Fri. Wednesday is cleaning day. On days not in school kids do on line.

Not sure how any of this works. Is online learning separate instruction? Or just zoom of other kids instruction? This is a rural area and many kids won't have access to decent internet ... assuming kids have a place to go (if parent can't stay home) for 3 days / week.

One big cluster****. Oh, and testing everyone not on the table.

awc13
awc13

I feel for those with school age children. tough times. Mine are now grown and out of school.

RonJ
RonJ

“The skyrocketing infection rates of the past few weeks make it clear the pandemic is not under control,”

It never was under control, just people were, as governments forced what they artificially deemed non essential businesses, were shut down and those people told to stay home.

Zero Hedge: "Asian, European Countries Roll Back Economic Reopenings As COVID-19 Makes Global Comeback"

Anyone with common sense could have seen that one coming. A partial lockdown was never going to irradicate the virus and the economy and people cannot be partially locked down indefinitely.

The world economy is trashed, while preventing the attainment of herd immunity, the one guaranteed way to diminish the threat of the virus. How has trashing the economy been good for anyone's health? People can't pay their rent or their mortgage. They worry about whether they have a job to go back to. It is psychologically and economically damaging to far more people than the number at actual risk of dying from Covid.

The great irony is that the group that should have been most protected, the elderly in care facilities, were despite being locked down, due to their already frail condition, were the group placed most at risk of dying. Lockdown was a huge failure, as some 42% of the deaths occurred where the people should have been the safest.

Russell J
Russell J

Say what you will about Sweden's approach but they never stopped sending their children to school or destroyed 30-40-% of buss./jobs and their death rate is equal to the US.

Since we missed the opportunity to emulate S Korea or New Zealand which was probably never possible in the US following the Swedish approach is the only logical way forward..and we have to move forward.

Jackula
Jackula

We home schooled our daughter and she is in law school right now and was just selected for the legal review. We worked two different shifts and pulled it off. Much better education than the public propaganda system.

RunnrDan
RunnrDan

Step 1: Move classes online.
Step 2 (5-10 years down the road): Sell school properties to fund insolvent pensions.

You read it here first.

Anda
Anda

South Africa is reopening schools now, this might provide more insight on how that evolves

In Spain plans are too reopen fully in September, UK also. Personally I think it is going to be chaotic, especially if there are still larger outbreaks going on in any country. I think though that keeping schools open is going to be a priority for governments now, because organising anything else is going to be difficult for society as a whole without them functioning.

Zardoz
Zardoz

Time to sell the lot of them for medical experiments.

Casual_Observer
Casual_Observer

I think the best solution is cutting the class size by asking half of the students to distance learn. Truly only essential workers kids need to be in school. The problem with the way they've defined essential workers is it basically includes everyone and shouldn't.

Irondoor
Irondoor

I saw a headline today (didn't have time to read the details) that the virus is spread readily from an infected person to those downstream of the air conditioning vents when they are in relatively close proximity to the infected. Two other relevant cases I've seen were in a restaurant and a call-center type of office environment. Such businesses will likely have to re-engineer their A/C operation and allow more space per employee or seated customer. Plus use the Plexiglas screens. Great time to be in the Plexiglas business.

Dodge Demon
Dodge Demon

Defund the public schools and as mentioned upthread sell the real estate. Cost savings should enable parents to teach their own children or pay private parties to do so.

Woodturner
Woodturner

If a school board uses Zoom to discuss reopening, I’d suggest they not reopen.

Realist
Realist

That was a lot of interesting discussion.

I suspect that there are going to be a wide variety of different approaches to re-opening schools, just as there has been different approaches for re-opening businesses. (After all, the US can never agree on anything resembling a coordinated approach.)

And just like businesses, many schools will be shut down again within a month or two of re-opening due to an outbreak of virus cases. Just as you are witnessing right now in California, Texas, Florida, etc.

Even in countries that had the virus spread reduced to manageable levels, it quickly resurfaced upon re-opening. However, starting from already reduced levels made it easier to control and prevent widespread infection.

The problem in the US is that you aren’t going to wait to get the virus under control. You are going to open schools while the virus is out-of-control.

I feel sorry for the children, teachers and families who will suffer the consequences. Trump and his team so desperately want to re-open your economy. But you are not going to get a strong economy if you keep opening before you are ready. I wonder if they will ever figure it out? Probably not.

Worst president ever.

MellorNC
MellorNC

I own a small private preschool and kindergarten in coastal NC. Our governor just today announced a virtual learning and limited in person instruction for the new school year. We have now been flooded with requests from families who want to enroll their children with us now, as our school is deciding to stay open.

I'm noting that these are all well to do families who can afford to pay the tuition and do not want to subject their children to virtual learning and the parents want to continue working.

Children from families with less means are having to deal with whatever options the public schools have.

pkPA
pkPA

Public schools continually "need" more money and the public has no recourse but to submit to tax increases. Are school administrators ever obliged to cut costs or live within restrictive budget limits? Does the public ever have any say in funding public school and government worker pensions, many times the retirement benefits that most of us will ever see? But I digress. Why shouldn't there be some "Trumpian" oversite at some level of this unbridled spending? Yes there are new expenses due to the pandemic, but there are also savings - busing, utilities, probably many more things that I wouldn't think of. Aaah, but there are always those escalating pension costs we just have to submit and pay for. Don't ever question those. Trump is the only one who is brave enough to speak up for the lower 90%. I for one am just happy for some pushback.


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