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San Francisco suspends school renewals to focus on returning students to classrooms

Amid a substantial crackdown, the head of the San Francisco Board of Education said this week that the council was suspending plans to purge the district of school names he said were linked to racism, sexism or slavery until schools reopen for in-person learning. .

Gabriela López, chairman of the board, said in A declaration on Twitter on Sunday that the reopening “will be our only goal until our children and youth are back in school.” School renaming board meetings are canceled “for now” and “we will not take valuable time from our board agenda to discuss it further as we need to prioritize reopening », She declared.

“I want us to focus our time and actions where they matter most,” López added. “On the safety of our children and on their safe return to school.”

The council’s name change effort had been criticized by some parents, students and elected officials for its goals and timeline. The board started this work in 2018 and planned to rename the schools by April. San Francisco public schools have been focusing on distance learning for almost a year amid the coronavirus pandemic. Local private schools and public schools in other cities have already started offering in-person options.

In a 6: 1 vote last month, the school board decided to rename 44 of its 121 schools because it said the schools were named after historical figures who meet the following criteria: “engaged in the subjugation and enslavement of human beings; or who oppressed women, impeding the progress of society; or whose actions led to genocide; or which have otherwise greatly diminished the chances of those of us having the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Among the schools targeted for a name change were those named after Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Washington and Jefferson owned slaves. Lincoln has been criticized for his response to the so-called Minnesota Uprising, in which more than 300 Native Americans were sentenced to death by a military court after being accused of attacking white settlers in 1862.

Ms Feinstein was on the list because a vandalized Confederate flag outside City Hall was replaced while she was mayor of San Francisco.

“I recognize and take responsibility that mistakes were made in the name change process,” Ms. López said in her statement on Sunday.

Ms López also said in the statement that the council will revamp its name change process to make it “a more deliberative process” and include input from historians from local universities.

She did not say when the name change process would restart, but said in her statement that “this is the last time I will publicly comment on the name change until the schools reopen.”

The council’s vote in January to rename the 44 schools has been criticized by some as inappropriate amid the coronavirus pandemic and uncertainty over when students might return to class.

Earlier this month, the city made the dramatic decision to sue its own school district to force it to reopen schools. City officials cited testimonials from doctors and parents about the emotional effects of distance learning on students.

The mayor of London Breed had also criticized the timing of the council’s actions on the names of the schools.

“What I don’t understand is why the school board is coming up with a plan to have all of these schools renamed by April, when there is no plan for our kids to go back to class. here there, ”she said in a statement last month.

Sunday, Mrs. Breed retweeted an article from the San Francisco Chronicle with the headline: “San Francisco has the lowest coronavirus case rate of any major US city.” Its schools are among the last to reopen. She added, “We should safely reopen public schools.”

Ms Breed’s office did not immediately respond to an email message on Tuesday.

Yukina Grady, a senior at Abraham Lincoln High School, welcomed the council’s announcement to suspend the name change process. “The school name change is important, but in terms of timing it just wasn’t ideal,” she said in an interview on Tuesday. “In some ways, it was a bit performative.”

It is not clear when students can return to school in San Francisco. Ms López’s statement did not outline a timeline and she did not immediately respond to an email message on Tuesday evening.

Ms Grady said she can’t wait to return to class, but plans to embark on a particular school day in a few months.

“If I could just graduate on stage and walk on stage and have a real degree with the people I went to school with for four years, I think that would be good,” she said.

“Even though we weren’t able to spend our last year together,” she added, “we can always say a final goodbye.”

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Colleges have promised a safer spring. Then the students and the variants arrived.

Colleges have promised a safer spring. Then students and variants arrived. Many universities have instituted new testing protocols, hoping to avoid the problems of the drop. But coronavirus variants and uncooperative students have already caused epidemics.By Stephanie Saul and Shawn Hubler

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Students punished for ‘vulgar’ social media posts fight

These tweets, according to her court documents, include one in which she “was contributing to a trending discussion on Twitter about Cardi B’s song ‘WAP’ with Megan Thee Stallion by suggesting lyrics for a possible remix.”

His suggestion – “He’s not my daddy but I call him daddy” because he’s good in bed (his wording was less polite) – was “well within the normal limits of social media discussion”, said his complaint.

It was the second time in a year that someone had denounced Ms. Diei for her social media posts; the first time, the university ordered him to write a reflection letter. This time, she received a letter on September 2 stating that her “conduct is a serious violation of the standards and expectations of the profession”. One of her public posts, he said, included a picture identifying her as a pharmacy student at school; Ms. Diei disputes this.

The letter referred her to the student manual, which says university staff “may monitor social networking sites on occasion and blatant unprofessional posts could result in disciplinary action.” But it left her extrapolating what was blatant, she said.

The dean of the pharmacy reversed his expulsion three weeks later, after a phone conversation in which, Ms Diei said, the dean asked him to try to block people affiliated with the school from his accounts and minimize his university affiliation. “It’s hard for me to do when I have so many followers,” she says.

Ms. Diei says she designed her articles for an audience of black women like herself, and hopes that she could become popular enough to make money promoting products.

“I use words and phrases that are common in our community,” she says.

Her Instagram name, kimmykasi, was meant to be “cute and simple,” she said, a compound of the diminutive Kimberly and a word she found in an Igbo dictionary defined as “to be the tallest.” , in tribute to his Nigerian immigrant father. .

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What a district did to prevent students from failing

LUBBOCK, Texas – Madison Hermosillo started her sophomore year at Roosevelt High School alone in her room, bewildered and quickly late.

Located among cotton fields and derricks outside of Lubbock, Texas, his school was open for in-person lessons. But the coronavirus cases were rampant and her mother decided to keep her at home.

Madison, who is 16, has become entangled in remote assignments in geometry, chemistry and world geography. Soon she was failing every class except the gymnasium.

“My mom was telling me to go do it, and I just wanted to go to my room and watch TikTok on my phone,” she says.

She wasn’t the only one. By the end of the first grading period in September, 77% of distant high school students in the district were failing at least one grade. Those who chose to attend in person, on the other hand, were mostly passing through.

Likewise, about 30% of the youngest students, especially in first and second grades, did not meet grade level expectations on a reading assessment administered at the start of the school year – roughly double the number of students. number of previous years, Delynn Wheeler, the school’s primary principal, said.

For district officials, it was proof that distance education last spring had set students back. And those who stayed away at the start of the fall semester struggled to catch up.

So the district took a drastic step: it ended its distance education option and forced all of its 1,010 students – from pre-kindergarten to grade 12 – to return to class.

“It works for us in our little school district,” said Dallas Grimes, the superintendent. “It won’t work everywhere.”

The Roosevelt Independent School District is like many others across Texas: small and rural, with a very Hispanic student body, many of whom live in poverty. Like others, the district has struggled to provide distance education, despite establishing mobile hotspots for students without internet and frequent registration with those falling behind.

The results of prescribing in-person instruction have been mixed. Dozens of teachers, staff and students have been infected, and many more have had to quarantine at home due to the exposure. Absences have disrupted everything from classroom instruction to building maintenance.

But teachers and administrators have said that the best thing for their students is to be in school.

“When these kids walked through that door, it was good,” said Theresa Hoffman, vice-principal of the district elementary school, recalling her emotion as she saw the students return. “Schools that haven’t done this – I can’t imagine.”

The entire Roosevelt Independent School District sits on one campus, along a straight, flat country road. A fleet of yellow buses arrive each morning carrying the vast majority of students, many of whom wear the brown colors of the Eagle School.

Students are 57% Latino and 37% White, with a small number of black students and fewer of other races. More than three quarters are entitled to a free or reduced price lunch.

Roosevelt was among the first districts in Texas to end distance learning, advising parents on September 22. All the students had to come back the following Monday. (The majority of students in Texas attend school in person.)

Of about 140 students who were studying remotely, 15 withdrew from school because their families were concerned about the health risks of in-person classes.

Seven others had already left the school district, located in a conservative and often Covid-skeptical part of West Texas, for the opposite reason: Their parents opposed a state mandate that all children under 10 years or older wear masks, Mr Grimes said.

So far, the decision to bring everyone back into the classroom has improved performance, Mr. Grimes said. By the winter break, only 9% of high school students failed at least one class.

But as performance improved, the pandemic intervened.

Many of the 170 teachers, administrators and other staff in the district have tested positive for the coronavirus (52) or had to be quarantined due to exposure (27), from the start of the school year in early January.

Absences forced teachers to combine classes, serve lunch and even take out the trash. Mr Grimes, the superintendent, had to drive a bus when regular drivers tested positive or had to self-quarantine due to exposure.

“We’re still recovering from Covid now,” said Tim Crane, the high school principal, who along with his wife, a special education teacher, tested positive in early November. “My wife and I are doing all we can, and yet we got it.

As more schools across the country open their doors in the fall, evidence suggests that in-person learning has not necessarily led to widespread transmission of the coronavirus in schools – although the emergence of a new, possibly more infectious variant of the coronavirus has raised new concerns about the reopening. schools.

In Roosevelt, there is no regular screening for coronaviruses, but the district has imposed basic safety measures, including requiring masks except for eating, and staggering arrivals and layoffs.

The highest risk was infections outside of school. The surrounding Lubbock County community experienced one of the worst epidemics in Texas in the fall, fueled by a mix of back-to-college revelers and local residents tired of pandemic precautions.

No cases have been linked to contact at the school, Mr Grimes said. But the contact tracing was incomplete. Mr Crane said neither he nor his wife heard Lubbock County contact tracers after they fell ill.

And the community has not been immune to the toll of the pandemic: A bus driver, who tested positive at the end of a Thanksgiving week off, died days later.

Cafeteria tables that can accommodate ten students are limited to three. Numbered meal tables fill a school gymnasium. Some students eat on the bleachers, at the places marked with blue tape.

The school does not have the space to maintain a six foot spacing in the classrooms. And collaborative work, or the desire to chat, brings students together.

“Guys, you’re going to have to sit down,” Kylie Martinez, an English teacher, told three students who stood together in her freshman English class one morning last fall.

In the dim light of her second-floor classroom, students quietly read and answer questions on their laptops – a much bigger part of school life this year, and a way to keep students learn if they need to quarantine themselves at home.

“As a mom, I was worried,” said Ms. Martinez, who has two young children who attend the district primary school. “I was afraid they would get sick and we would be quarantined.”

So far, this has not happened. But the pandemic has directly affected around one in three students: by the second week of January, 53 had tested positive since the start of the school year, and 282 others had had to quarantine for two weeks due to a exposure.

“I’m in a big geometry class, and half of that class is in quarantine,” said Madison Hermosillo, the sophomore who has struggled with distance learning, just before the Thanksgiving break.

Madison has adapted to the new back-to-school habits, from wearing a mask to sitting in an assigned seat for lunch. After a few weeks of returning to school, her grades started to improve.

At the beginning of January, she took all her classes.

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In the midst of one pandemic, students train for the next

The project received funding in early 2020, said Christine Marizzi, chief scientist at BioBus. Weeks later, the coronavirus began to hit the country and the team were forced to change their plans. But Dr Marizzi, who has long specialized in community-based research, was not deterred. For the remainder of the school year, the team will train their virus hunters through a mix of virtual lessons, remote and masked lab work, and sample collection in the field.

It’s a welcome distraction for Ms. Bautista, who, like many other students, had to switch to distance learning at her high school this spring. “When the pandemic hit, I felt really helpless,” she said. “I felt like I couldn’t do anything. So this program is really special for me.

A thousand miles to the south, students at Sarasota Military Academy Prep, a charter school in Sarasota, Florida, have also had to make drastic changes since the coronavirus hit land in the United States. But a few of them may have entered 2020 a little more prepared than the others, having experienced an almost identical outbreak a few weeks before.

These were the graduates of Operation Outbreak, an outreach program designed by researchers that, in recent years, has simulated an annual viral outbreak on the school campus. Led by Todd Brown, director of community outreach at Sarasota Military Academy Prep, the program started out as a low-tech company using stickers to mimic the spread of a viral disease. With guidance from a team of researchers led by Pardis Sabeti, a computer biologist at Harvard University, the program quickly evolved into a smartphone app capable of transmitting a virtual virus from student to student with a Bluetooth signal. .

The latest iteration of Operation Sarasota Outbreak was odd in its foreknowledge. Held in December 2019, just weeks before the novel coronavirus began its rampage across the world, the simulation centered on a viral pathogen that moved both quickly and silently among people, causing waves of symptoms to influenza.

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Students Running Out Of Online Lessons, Teachers Turn To Students

WASHINGTON – It was 10:30 a.m. math class time, and Tylee Wise was in his usual spot – a double bed in the bedroom he shares with his little sister, a humming TV a few feet away – when a sudden snap came to the apartment door.

A teacher had come to call, hoping to know why Tylee, a third grader, was again missing online classes at Achievement Preparatory Academy, the charter school he attended since preschool. Since the start of the school year on August 31, Tylee had missed 21 days, a third of the total.

Every Wednesday since September, teacher A’Keisha Swann has traveled across Southeast Washington, the city’s poorest neighborhood, to visit families like Tylee and plead with them to make sure that children “click” in class.

Around 20% of the 200 students at Achievement Prep were considered chronically absent in early December, a number that was actually down from 35% earlier in the fall – but still significantly higher than last year.

Ensuring students attend classes during the pandemic has been a daunting challenge across the country, with districts reporting record absenteeism rates. This can be particularly difficult for large urban school systems, which serve tens of thousands of low-income families and, for the most part, have remained fully isolated since March.

The impact on learning is starting to show: A recent study of assessment scores found that Washington public school students this fall were four months behind in math, on average, compared to a typical grade, and a month behind in reading.

Black and at-risk students – those whose families receive food stamps or other public aid, or who are homeless or in the foster care system – were even further behind, especially in reading. And virtually all of the reading losses were among students who live in the city’s two poorest neighborhoods. Those who live in richer neighborhoods have slightly improved.

Achievement Prep is one of dozens of charter public schools in Washington serving approximately 43,000 children – almost as many as the 51,000 in traditional public schools in the city. Most students in both types of schools have learned online at home all year round, although the city’s school system is preparing to at least offer in-person lessons starting next month.

The teachers’ union strongly opposed the reopening, withdrawing from tentative agreements to do so in the fall even as private schools and some charters reopened. Initially, the district did not seek the advice of directors on plans to reopen, and many parents also felt left in the dark. A December survey found that less than half of parents were willing to send their children back to school, with those in the poorest neighborhoods overwhelmingly wishing to stay away.

Even in a normal year, the challenges of Achievement Prep are enormous. Seventy percent of its students live below the poverty line and 13 percent are homeless. But it looks like the students struggled even more than usual this fall; Informal assessments have revealed that no second-graders have started the school year reading at grade level, according to Sarah Lewis, the school principal.

Ms Swann, the teacher who visited Tylee’s apartment, is part of the ‘culture team’ at Achievement Prep, a small group of teachers and social workers who regularly call parents to ask how they and their kids get out of it, troubleshoot technology and other obstacles, and sometimes put them in touch with therapists who can help deal with depression and other mental health issues that could hinder dating.

During Ms Swann’s weekly home visits, a handful of families have consistently refused her, even refusing to open the door when she knocks. “At least listen to me,” she will say. And although they usually listen, grandmothers who care for their grandchildren, in particular, are reluctant to engage, Ms Swann said, probably because they feel so overwhelmed and uncomfortable. comfortable with technology.

A girl who had never skipped school during the pandemic suddenly disappeared for a week recently, recalls Ms. Swann; it turned out her mother had lost her job and they had been kicked out. Another mother showed Ms Swann the cinder block walls in her apartment on FaceTime to prove poor connectivity was to blame for her children’s absence.

In yet another family, students in Twin Kindergarten frequently missed school, and their mother was found to be six months pregnant and bedridden. After speaking with her, the cultural team made a wireless hotspot available to the family to help keep the children online.

“We try to let them know that we are not focused on judging,” said Antonio Wilson, another teacher on the team.

At the Wise family’s apartment in early December, Ms. Swann greeted Tylee and her sister, Tynahja, a second-grader, with cheerful cries – “Hey guys! Oh, look at your Christmas tree! – and told Tylee he looked a lot taller than he did in the spring. He brought his laptop to the living room to work with Mr Wilson, while Ms Swann sat at the table with his mother, LaShawla Waller.

“He gets distracted very quickly,” Ms. Waller said of Tylee. “Many times I have to say, ‘Get on your computer’. Or they can be on it, then they flip the camera over or block it, then they try to play on their phone. “”

That morning, Ms Waller added, Tylee had dozed off shortly after class started. “I said, ‘You can’t be on the computer dozing!’” She told Ms. Swann. “‘Are you insane?'”

Tylee’s father, Tyrone Wise, intervened to say that the internet connection frequently fails due to the thick walls of the old apartment complex.

From her previous visits, Ms Swann was already familiar with the family’s hardships: Mr Wise works outside the home during the day, fixing cars around the neighborhood. Ms. Waller works from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at the Pentagon, overseeing cleanup crews. So there is a time when Tylee and his sister are home alone and they wait for Mrs. Waller to come home from work before they start to think about sleep.

Ms. Waller often naps after school starts in the morning, before getting ready for work, and that’s when kids are most likely to walk away from class, though Tylee was most often absent.

Ms Swann reiterated the suggestions she had made to her parents before: create an ‘official workspace’ for Tylee, rather than letting him sit on his bed during class and keep their phones handy, so teachers can text them when Tylee isn’t online.

And for the first time, Ms. Swann got them to sign an “attendance contract,” pledging to have Tylee attend school for the next two weeks.

She knelt down and looked Tylee in the eyes. “Are you going to promise me that you’re going to stay on the line?” Because I will be watching you. If this is something embarrassing or if you are having difficulty, you can let me know, okay? “

“Sometimes the Wi-Fi just disconnects me right away,” Tylee replied.

“But I need you to reconnect,” Ms. Swann insisted. “Can you do that? It’s going to be tough, like your dad said, sometimes with the Wi-Fi and the way the building is. But I need you to give me some determination.

Bringing supplies to the family to set up a desk for Tylee would be her next step – one that she hoped would make him less likely to disconnect or fall asleep in class.

For now, another family awaited his visit.

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Providence kept the classrooms open and the students returned

PROVIDENCE, RI – Rachel Santos is clear on one thing: distance learning hasn’t worked for her.

“There were always Zoom meetings, and I couldn’t really focus on that, because I’m easily distracted and there’s a lot going around my house,” she says. Without any in-person support, she added, she had what she described as “mental breakdowns.”

So when her district, Providence Public Schools, gave students the choice in September to return to their classrooms, Rachel, 15, and her mother jumped at that option.

“My child has regressed a lot” during many months of distance education, said his mother, Ramona Santos Torres.

Students like Rachel have helped make Providence an outlier among American cities like New York and Chicago where, given choice, black and Latin American families have typically chosen to have their children learn from home. .

In Providence, more than 70% of the 22,600 students in the district have returned to their classrooms. The district is made up of 68% Latino, 15% Black, 6.5% White and 4% Asian. Eighty-five percent of students are entitled to a free or reduced price lunch.

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, who has strongly insisted that schools reopen for in-person instruction, said distance learning is leaving disadvantaged students behind.

All districts in the state except one have offered at least one in-person instruction since the fall, even as Rhode Island went from a very low number of cases in the summer to one of the worst outbreaks in the world. country.

In Providence, the state’s largest district, elementary school students can attend school five days a week, while most middle and high school students can attend every other day.

This contrasts sharply with other cities in the northeast, where infection rates were lower than Providence during the last months of 2020.

In New York City, only elementary students can currently attend school in person, and many attend less than five days a week. In Boston, even fewer students are in classrooms – just 1,900 out of a total of about 52,000 – although the district has announced it will bring back more students starting next month.

Parents and experts cite several reasons why a majority of Providence parents could have sent their children back to school. As in other districts, many parents work outside the home and are unable to supervise their children during the day; many are also immigrants who do not speak English and cannot help their children with their homework online.

But Ms Raimondo, who was nominated by President Biden to be the next secretary of commerce, provided an extra boost, not only in her advocacy for the school in person, but also in building trust with parents in not minimizing the dangers of the virus or rushing to reopen the economy. Rhode Island has had a mask warrant in place since May, for example.

Despite the district’s efforts to keep students in classrooms, there is no doubt that the pandemic has taken its toll on learning. Almost half of fifth-graders who were found to meet or exceed expectations on the basis of the National Arts in English Test in Spring 2019 were classified as “at risk” or “urgent” on a test of basic literacy last fall.

Teachers also say they find it difficult to engage students who learn from home – both those in full-time distance education and in-person middle and high school students who are home every alternate day.

“The days they are in front of us there is better engagement, and we have better control to provide them with support in their learning,” said Arzinia Gill, principal of DelSesto Middle School, of her students in nobody. “And on the days when they’re asynchronous – that is, when they’re not in front of us – that can be a challenge.”

The district, which has a history of high absenteeism, has seen its attendance drop even more this year: the attendance rate was 81% in November, down from 91% in November 2019.

When Audra Cornell, 28, a math and English development teacher at DelSesto, entered a seventh-grade math class at the end of a December morning, only two of the six students who were supposed to be there introduced themselves.

As Ms. Cornell led students through a lesson in proportional relations, one student’s mask kept slipping off his nose – despite not taking it off to munch on crackers or crisps. At one point when Mrs. Cornell went to answer a question, she said calmly, “Can you cover your nose when I’m here?” He obeyed.

In an interview, Ms Cornell said she felt her students benefited from face-to-face teaching, but their progress was slower because they weren’t in school every day. days.

“They don’t keep the same amount between working at school and working from home,” she says.

The Providence Teachers Union opposed the reopening, saying buildings in the district were unsanitary before the pandemic and now unsafe. In November, the union sued the district, seeking to shut down a college that had seen several cases; a judge rejected the request.

There have been hundreds of cases of the coronavirus among Providence students and school staff this fall, but no cases of widespread transmission inside schools, district officials said. And unlike many districts elsewhere that have kept schools open even as cases have increased in the community, Providence has not had to move entire schools to distance learning due to understaffing – although delays in contact tracing forced some classrooms to temporarily move away. .

The district imposes masks and requires students to take their temperature and perform a symptom check, either before getting on the bus or upon arrival at school.

In late November, as the case rate in the community skyrocketed, the district temporarily moved 10th and 11th grade students to distance education for six weeks to reduce density in high schools. The district has also transferred all students to distance education for about a week before and a week after the winter break, to allow families to quarantine themselves before and after the holiday gatherings.

Ms Cornell, who has been quarantined twice for exposure at the school, said in December that she felt safe arriving at the school. But in mid-January, as she was about to return home, she felt less sure that teaching in person was a good idea.

The district was starting to perform bi-monthly surveillance tests on students and staff, which she said was positive. But she said the teachers were getting more and more anxious as more and more people they knew were getting sick.

“It was nice to take a break,” she said of vacations and virtual learning days.

For Rachel Santos, who is in ninth grade, and her mother, the fall has been difficult. Rachel’s 24-year-old sister, who lives with them, tested positive for the virus just after Thanksgiving, forcing Rachel and her mother into quarantine.

In addition to the winter break and the distance learning week that followed, Rachel was absent from school for over a month.

“She had a bunch of missing homework,” her mother said shortly after her daughter returned to school on January 11.

“She was struggling a lot emotionally,” Ms. Santos Torres said. “I’m thankful that she’s back in person.”

Maria Jiménez Moya assisted with the interpretation at Providence.

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Some medical students celebrate with selfies on Covid vaccine while others line up

In early January, Nali Gillespie watched her social media feeds fill with selfies about vaccines: photo after photo of her peers at other medical schools across the country standing proudly next to a syringe with their dose of Moderna vaccine or Pfizer Covid-19.

But Ms Gillespie – who is in her third year at Duke University School of Medicine and focuses on research rather than clinical training – knew she couldn’t join them yet.

Because she volunteers at an outpatient clinic once a week, she has less direct exposure to Covid patients and lines up behind her classmates who work in intensive care units and emergency rooms.

“You hear that in some schools the students are already getting their second dose, and then there are some of us who weren’t even scheduled for our first,” Ms. Gillespie said.

When she shows up for her weekly shifts at the clinic, she knows she is still vulnerable to exposure to the coronavirus. “You are more and more aware that an asymptomatic patient can come into the clinic and you see them in a small examination room,” she says. “The risk is very real.”

In December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced guidelines setting priorities for who should receive vaccines first when the rollout begins. Although the guidelines were broad, medical students learned they could be included in the first wave of healthcare workers, especially those involved in caring for Covid patients. But the rollout has varied widely across the country’s 155 medical schools, each of which has prioritized based on the availability of vaccine doses in their state.

This has caused stress for some medical students who are continuing their clinical placements. Although some schools prohibit students from treating Covid patients, this rule can be difficult to enforce, especially in asymptomatic cases.

Vaccines against covid19>

Answers to your questions about vaccines

While the exact order of vaccinees can vary by state, most will likely prioritize medical workers and residents of long-term care facilities. If you want to understand how this decision is made, this article will help you.

Life will only return to normal when society as a whole is sufficiently protected against the coronavirus. Once countries authorize a vaccine, they will only be able to immunize a few percent of their citizens at most in the first two months. The unvaccinated majority will always remain vulnerable to infection. A growing number of coronavirus vaccines show strong protection against the disease. But it is also possible for people to spread the virus without even knowing they are infected, as they have only mild symptoms, if any. Scientists do not yet know if the vaccines also block the transmission of the coronavirus. So for now, even vaccinated people will have to wear masks, avoid crowds inside, etc. Once enough people are vaccinated, it will become very difficult for the coronavirus to find vulnerable people to infect. Depending on how quickly we as a society reach this goal, life may start to move closer to something normal by fall 2021.

Yes, but not forever. The two vaccines that will potentially be authorized this month clearly protect people against Covid-19 disease. But the clinical trials that delivered these results were not designed to determine whether vaccinated people could still spread the coronavirus without developing symptoms. It remains a possibility. We know that people naturally infected with the coronavirus can spread it without feeling a cough or other symptoms. Researchers will study this question intensely as the vaccines are rolled out. In the meantime, even vaccinated people will have to consider themselves as possible spreaders.

The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine is given by injection into the arm, like other typical vaccines. The injection will be no different from any you received before. Tens of thousands of people have already received the vaccines and none of them have reported serious health problems. But some of them experienced short-lived discomfort, including aches and pains and flu-like symptoms that usually last for a day. People may need to plan a day off or school after the second shot. While these experiences are not pleasant, they are a good sign: they are the result of your own immune system encountering the vaccine and building a powerful response that will provide long-lasting immunity.

No. Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use a genetic molecule to stimulate the immune system. This molecule, known as mRNA, is ultimately destroyed by the body. The mRNA is packaged in an oily bubble that can fuse with a cell, allowing the molecule to slip inside. The cell uses mRNA to make proteins from the coronavirus, which can stimulate the immune system. At any given time, each of our cells can contain hundreds of thousands of mRNA molecules, which they produce to make their own proteins. Once these proteins are made, our cells then shred the mRNA with special enzymes. The mRNA molecules made by our cells can only survive for a few minutes. The mRNA in vaccines is designed to resist the enzymes in the cell for a bit longer, so that the cells can make additional viral proteins and elicit a stronger immune response. But mRNA can only last a few days at most before being destroyed.

At some institutions, like the Duke School of Medicine, students working in intensive care units and emergency departments were placed in the highest priority group, 1A, while everyone else was told that they would be vaccinated in group 1B. At Yale School of Medicine, all medical students, regardless of their patient exposure level, were told they would be vaccinated in reverse alphabetical order (“with the first letter of their last name beginning at the end of the alphabet ”).

“Those in the later stages of the alphabet were happy but a little confused about its arbitrariness,” said Sumun Khetpal, a fourth-year student.

Students at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth said for weeks they had not received any communication from the school on when they would receive their vaccines, so some drove for hours through the State looking for private pharmacists who would give them vaccines. And at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, the students said they also had to “take matters into their own hands” and go to private pharmacies to inquire about the possibility of getting the vaccine because until last weekend, they weren’t told how to get vaccines from their school.

“The CDC’s guidelines did not have the level of granularity needed for hospitals and schools to make decisions,” said Dr. Alison Whelan, academic director of the Association of American Medical Colleges. “There was quite a lot of variability due to the lack of a national plan.”

Adding to the confusion, vaccines have been allocated to states based on their populations, which do not always reflect their health worker populations, added Dr Janis Orlowski, the association’s chief health officer. There are 21,000 medical students in the country.

For some of them, there is a sense of guilt relief as they get the vaccine knowing that some of their peers still don’t.

“A close friend of mine is a dental student and is regularly in people’s mouths, but she has not received the Covid vaccine,” said Azan Virji, a second year medical student at Harvard who received her first dose late. December. “We have the impression that there is a disparity.”

Still, Mr Virji said he has treated Covid-19 patients on several occasions and felt an increased weight knowing he was now inoculated.

“My parents in Tanzania may not have access to this vaccine until 2022, and now I am one of the first people to have access,” he said. “It’s bittersweet, but essential for me to feel calmer in the hospital.

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Chicago students return to school on Monday. Do their teachers?

As 6,000 preschool and special education students prepare to return to Chicago’s school buildings on Monday for the first time since March, a question arises: How many of their teachers will be there to greet them?

City mayor Lori Lightfoot argued that giving parents the opportunity to send their children to school in person is key to preventing some of the mostly poor, black and Latin American students in the district definitely don’t fall behind.

But the city’s teachers’ union has fiercely resisted the plan, arguing that schools are unsafe as the coronavirus circulates at current levels. In the past week, less than 60% of the nearly 2,000 teachers who had to return to their buildings to prepare for the arrival of students actually showed up.

District Executive Director Janice K. Jackson said on Friday she was optimistic that most teachers would arrive at work on Monday. But she also warned that anyone who stays at home without permission will not be paid, raising the prospect of a heightened clash with the union, which has suggested it could strike if teachers are not allowed to stay. at home if they wish.

Across the country, many major cities, such as New York, have struggled to resume even limited in-person instruction, while a number, including Los Angeles, have simply given up on the idea for now. , choosing to stick to entirely distance education. at least in the spring.

These struggles have often pitted Democratic officials who sought to reopen schools to a central democratic constituency, the teachers’ unions, who insisted on keeping them closed. But few districts have experienced as much acrimony as Chicago, the country’s third-largest system with around 350,000 students.

“This is probably the most controversial and unpleasant reopening in terms of the interaction between the different parties,” said Emily Oster, professor of economics at Brown who has collected data on coronavirus cases in schools and argued that reopening schools was safe. in many circumstances.

The 6,000 students returning Monday will be followed on February 1 by 70,000 additional students from kindergarten to eighth grade. Preschool and some special education students will attend school five days a week; other students will attend two days a week. There are currently no plans to allow secondary school students to return to class.

As in other cities, race has been a subtext of the struggle in Chicago, with Mayor Lightfoot arguing that black and Latino students are harmed the most by keeping schools closed.

But unions say those same students and their families will be the most at risk if schools reopen, as they often lack access to quality health care and the coronavirus has had a particularly devastating impact on their communities.

Many black and Latino parents in the neighborhood have the same concern: less than a third of them have chosen to send their children back to school in person. As in New York, white parents were much more willing to send their children back to class.

But interviews with parents and officials indicate that many families are deeply in conflict as they try to balance concerns that their children are losing their education with fear of bringing the virus home.

Alderman Michael Scott, Jr., who represents a predominantly black neighborhood on the city’s West Side and is the chairman of the city council’s education committee, said families in his neighborhood felt confused by the messages diametrically. opposites they hear from the District and the Union.

“I think people in my communities don’t really know which side to listen to,” he says.

Katrina Adams, who lives in the Avalon Park neighborhood on the south side, said she wanted to send her oldest daughter, who is in fourth grade, back to school because her grades were dropping and she missed her friends.

But Ms Adams said she didn’t think the neighborhood was ready to open. She spoke of concerns the union has also raised about whether enough air purifiers have been installed and how many of the 400 wardens the district has pledged to hire would actually be working before the first ones arrive. students. (The district says there is an air purifier in every classroom that will be used and 150 guards have been hired, the rest will follow by Jan. 25.)

Ms Adams, who lost an aunt and cousin to Covid-19, said her views were not influenced by the teachers’ union. But she admitted to feeling disturbed that many teachers are concerned about the transmission of the coronavirus at school.

“If they don’t feel safe coming back, it’s definitely an alert, for a parent or anyone,” she says.

The union also argues that reopening schools will be educationally damaging to the many black and Latino students who have chosen to continue learning from home. Indeed, teachers will have to teach students in person and at a distance simultaneously, which will disadvantage distant students, according to the union.

“It will be a worse education for the vast majority of blacks and Latinxes,” said union president Jesse Sharkey.

Ms Lightfoot and Dr Jackson counter that schools are safe and that while distance learning works for some students it just doesn’t work for others, especially young students and students with disabilities who have no. no substantial support at home.

Many education experts also believe that in-person education is significantly superior to distance education.

“Denying parents this option is irresponsible and false,” Ms. Lightfoot said on Friday of in-person schooling. “I understand the stress we have all felt during this pandemic, but we cannot lose sight of our ultimate goal, which is to keep our children safe, nourished and engaged.”

The union has worked hard over the past week to gain public support for its position. Some teachers have worked outdoors to dramatize the idea that they would rather freeze rather than risk infection inside their buildings. On Friday, they held press conferences and invited parents to a town hall to highlight the dangers of going back to school.

The union also enlisted a majority of the city council to oppose the reopening plan and to urge the district to negotiate with the union. Dr Jackson accused the aldermen of hypocrisy, saying some of them had children in Catholic schools that had been open for months.

Chicago is the birthplace of teachers’ unions and remains a center of union activism. In recent years, the Chicago Teachers Union has been one of the most activist teachers’ unions in major cities. He clashed with Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a monumental manner, especially over his decision to close some 50 schools in poor neighborhoods, and went on strike for seven days in 2012.

Ms Lightfoot was elected in 2019, promising to tackle inequalities between neighborhoods in the city, a goal supported by the union. But she soon found herself in the crosshairs of the union, when it staged an 11-day strike for asking the city to hire more councilors, downsizing class sizes and fixing issues like affordable housing.

The union said no teacher should be forced to teach in person until all school employees have had a chance to get the vaccine, or until the positivity rate of the city ​​drops to 3% and its rate of new cases falls below 400 per day.

Over the past week, the city had a 10.7% positivity rate and just over 1,000 new cases per day, or about 38 cases per 100,000 population. (For comparison, last week New York City recorded 62 new cases per day per 100,000 residents.)

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said teachers could start getting vaccinated within weeks. But a school district spokeswoman said, according to the state’s schedule, it would take months before all teachers could be vaccinated.

Against the backdrop of the struggle is the fact that the district has a long history of fiscal problems and what city officials see as gross underfunding by the state. The district currently receives less than 70% of the funding it would need to adequately serve its students – a gap of $ 1.87 billion – according to a state funding formula adopted in 2017.

Mimi Rodman, executive director of Stand for Children in Illinois, an education reform organization, said that if many districts face disputes with their teachers over the reopening, wealthier districts could take steps that would ease the path to compromise.

New Trier High School, for example, a wealthy suburban neighborhood north of Chicago, recently started doing weekly saliva tests on all students and staff. Chicago Public Schools plan to test staff once a month, but do not do any supervision tests on students.

“The CPS can’t even start to think about things like saliva testing,” Ms. Rodman said, “because they can’t afford it.

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Underprivileged students more likely to learn remotely, study finds

NWEA, a nonprofit research group, warned in May that closing spring schools could cost students a third of their expected annual reading progress and half of their expected math progress. Subsequent analysis of the fall test scores showed better results – no drops in reading and more modest drops in math – but many underprivileged students did not take the test, which likely skewed the results.

Data from Zearn, an online math program used by some schools, shows performance gaps are widening, with low-income students’ progress falling 14% since January, even as it increased 13% among high-income students. A recent study of Dutch exams found that the average student made “little or no progress” during an eight-week hiatus last spring, with disadvantaged students suffering the greatest learning loss.

“Distance learning is almost certain to widen the achievement gap,” Lake said. “It has been a complete disaster for low income students.”

Among those affected are Dehlia Winbush of Kent, Wash., And her ten-year-old daughter, Nadira, who suffers from a behavioral disorder that oscillates between depression and aggression.

The switch to distance learning last spring “was extremely horrible,” said Ms. Winbush. “It was constantly a struggle for her to log on, even if it was only for an hour.” The school computer malfunctioned and Ms. Winbush, who is visually impaired, was unable to read it well enough to help Nadira with lessons.

“Personally, I don’t think she learned anything,” she says.

The new school year, she said, brought a longer school day and “a really good teacher.” But the isolation worsened Nadira’s depression and led to recent hospitalization. Ms Winbush took time off from her warehouse job to be by her daughter’s side, but her absences caused her to lose her job, adding financial problems to medical problems.

As Nadira’s screen flashes with interesting lessons – the rise of cities, defense mechanisms in animals – she misses the social and emotional development that comes from being in a classroom.