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Hello. Can teachers be vaccinated quickly? And can most schools safely reopen now? Yes and yes.
There are two obvious ways to reopen schools. The first is to take precautions such as wearing a mask that minimize the risk of an epidemic inside school buildings. The other is to vaccinate teachers across the country as quickly as possible.
Both strategies now seem achievable – and yet neither is happening in many places.
Instead, about half of K-12 students still don’t spend time in class. School closure rates are highest in Maryland, New Mexico, California and Oregon, according to Burbio. Experts say extended absences cause big learning problems, especially for low-income students.
Today’s newsletter examines how American children can return to school quickly and safely.
There are enough doses of vaccine
The country now has enough vaccine doses to put teachers on the front line without significantly delaying immunizations for everyone else.
Nationwide, around 6.5 million people work in a K-12 school. It’s a significantly smaller group than the 21 million healthcare workers, many of whom were among the first group of Americans to become eligible for vaccines.
As a benchmark, Moderna and Pfizer have delivered an average of more than one million new doses to the federal government every day this month. That daily number is set to surpass three million next month. Immediately vaccinating every school employee would delay everyone else’s vaccine by a few days at most.
A few states have already prioritized teachers, with Kentucky apparently the most advanced, according to Education Week. He has finished giving the first dose to most K-12 staff who want one. “This will help us get our children back to school safely faster than any other state,” Governor Andy Beshear said, “and it will allow us to do so without risking the health of those who come. to serve. these children. “
Schools reopened safely
Even before teachers are fully immunized – a process that can take more than a month after the first vaccine – many schools have shown how to reopen.
It involves “masking, social distancing, hand washing, adequate ventilation and contact tracing,” as Susan Dominus wrote (in a fascinating Times Magazine article on how Rhode Island has mostly maintained its open schools). It also involves setting up virtual alternatives for certain students and staff who want them. When schools took this approach, it generally worked, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others.
In one of the more rigorous studies, a group from Tulane University looked at hospitalizations (a more reliable measure than positive tests) before and after the school reopened. The results suggest that at least 75% of U.S. communities now have Covid well enough under control to reopen schools without triggering new epidemics, including in many places where schools remain closed.
The evidence is more obscure for places with the worst current epidemics, such as much of the Carolinas. And some schools appear to have reopened in unsafe conditions, including a district in Georgia that is the subject of a new CDC case study.
Yet Douglas Harris, the economist at Tulane who heads the research group, told me, “All the studies suggest that we can do it, if we think about it. He added, “We can’t do school the old fashioned way, but we can do better than that.”
One last remark: I recently wrote about the costs of the overly negative message that many people are spreading about vaccines, even though vaccines virtually eliminate severe forms of Covid. Schools are another place where you can see these costs – in Oregon.
Like Kentucky, Oregon has made vaccinating teachers a priority. But some teachers’ unions have expressed skepticism about reopening even after teachers are vaccinated, as my colleague Shawn Hubler wrote.
THE LAST NEWS
One morning read: After seven decades, Lucky Luke – a classic Franco-Belgian comic book – adds a dark hero.
From the review: Finding love in the pandemic is like “falling into space, time being further compressed into isolation”.
Lives lived: A Harvard-trained lawyer, Ahmed Zaki Yamani was a longtime oil minister in Saudi Arabia and the architect of the Arab world’s desire to control its own energy resources in the 1970s. Yamani has died at age 90.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Baseball’s Latest Trend: Lose Now
Spring training has started and Major League Baseball is suffering from a strange affliction: Some top teams don’t try to win. The Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies and Pittsburgh Pirates have all dumped top players in recent trades, receiving only a modest return.
It is deeply frustrating for the fans. “Can you file a complaint on behalf of all Rocky Mountain fans with the Better Business Bureau against the Rocky Mountain leadership because it’s just awful?” one recently wrote to the Denver Post.
What is happening? Baseball teams are businesses and winning isn’t always the best way to profit. Teams make substantial income from merchandise sales, television contracts, and more. And the pandemic has crushed the form of income that depends most on performance – the people who buy tickets.
In response, several teams have chosen to reduce the payroll. Their leaders promise fans that this is part of a plan to add exciting young players later. “The idea of dismantling – some call it tanking – is not new,” Tyler Kepner of The Times told us. “But it’s definitely more prevalent now.”
As Tyler points out, many gamers are also frustrated, believing the owners to behave like a cartel that keeps wages low. The bargaining deal expires after this season and the next round of bargaining could be difficult.
In Tyler’s Recent Columns, he’s looking at three teams trying to win: the San Diego Padres, the New York Mets and the New York Yankees.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to cook
Yesterday’s Spelling Bee pangram was dormitory. Here is today’s puzzle – or you can play it online.