This is the Coronavirus Schools Briefing, a guide to the seismic changes in American education that are occurring during the pandemic. Sign up here to receive this newsletter to your inbox.
In the past, Thanksgiving Eve was perhaps the liveliest bar night of the year. This year, it could become a big-ticket event that no one is grateful for.
You might know it by a different name – maybe Drinksgiving or Blackout Wednesday – but the bottom line is the same: College students coming home for the holidays meet their friends in town. It’s a night flirt and remember, then go home to sleep in a childhood bed.
“You’re going to see your family on Thanksgiving Day, but the day before is for your friends,” said Mike Pesarchick, 22, editor of The Griffin, the student newspaper at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.
The problems here should be obvious. College students are already at high risk of spreading the virus to the people they love, an even greater danger when they return home as cases rise across the country.
And bars are notorious coronavirus hotspots: A Washington Post analysis of cellphone data found reopening bars correlated with a doubling of cases. You can’t drink through a mask, and alcohol lowers your inhibitions: dating an ex from high school can be more than unfortunate this year.
Some health officials are clearly concerned. Pennsylvania will not allow bars and restaurants to sell alcohol after 5 p.m. today. In Maryland, police departments have increased their numbers to crack down on Covid-19 violations and to check drunk drivers. On Long Island, the Suffolk County executive is “particularly concerned” about tonight.
But many other states have allowed bars to stay open, even as cases increase.
Anna Boone, 20, is the culture editor at GW Hatchet, the student newspaper at George Washington University in DC. For Thanksgiving, she lives in Tallahassee, Florida, where bars that cater to Florida state students pop up. (The state of Florida has asked students leaving campus for Thanksgiving not to return for the remainder of the semester.)
“In Florida right now we don’t see extensive bar regulations,” she said. “They just have to throw nuts on the table and make sure they say they have food.”
It’s football season too, so she’s watching the hatchbacks from a safe distance from her phone screen. “There are no masks,” she said. “I don’t see this going away in the next few days as people are going home from different colleges.”
We do not want to fall prey to the temptation to blame all the students for the irresponsible behavior of a few. Many young people will choose not to endanger their families and neighbors during the holiday weekend.
Faith Andrews-O’Neal, 19, a freshman at Columbia University, says she told her friends in Kansas City, Missouri, “I’m not particularly interested in attending an event. wide circulation, then I’ll unsubscribe. “
So is Maggie Micklo, 22, senior at Mount Holyoke College. 2020 would have been the first year all of his friends in his hometown, a suburb of Chicago, could legally drink. But instead of going to a bar, they stay connected via Zoom, where they’ll play games (with an adult drink in hand) from the comfort of their respective rooms.
“There is a sadness about staying home, but I try to use it to get together with as many people as possible online and do what I can to make it a little warmer, a little more festive” , she said.
The ones we lost
Today we remember two educators and a student who died after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Iris Meda, a 70-year-old nurse in Texas, tested positive after being exposed to an infected nursing student. Meda had come out of retirement to teach during the pandemic.
“She felt like if she could gain momentum by teaching some of these basics, we could contain any virus,” her daughter, Selene Meda-Schlamel, told the Washington Post. “She wanted to do something that would make a difference.”
Samara Lyric Rand, a 25-year-old high school teacher in Mississippi, had no health problems before she died.
This spring, Rand spoke to Bracey Harris of The Hechinger Report about how she has helped her students make it through the semester. A dedicated educator, she began adapting online learning lessons, reaching out to students who weren’t connecting, and worrying about how families would find ways to make graduation special.
“Even though some students say they don’t like school, some rely on the school as a safe haven,” Rand said at the time. “Everyone misses it.”
Honesty Hodges died Sunday at the age of 14 in her hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Hodges made headlines in 2017, when she was 11, after police handcuffed her as she searched for an adult suspect. The police department subsequently adopted the “honesty policy,” which called for using the least restrictive options when dealing with young people. Hodges was a member of the NAACP Youth Council.
“She could have been vice president someday, or maybe president,” her grandmother said. “The world was open to him.”
College students get together
At the most basic level, mutual aid occurs when neighbors step in to directly fill in the gaps left by government services and large institutions.
“It creates kinship,” Tyesha Maddox, assistant professor in the African and African American studies department at Fordham University, told The Times this summer. “It’s more than charity or generosity. It’s building a cohesive neighborhood.
On college campuses, it’s even more important this year. Many students have struggled to meet basic needs during the pandemic, especially those who rely on dorms for accommodation after their campuses have closed.
Their peers, working without academic involvement, mobilized to help. A network of Vanderbilt University offers temporary housing, while at Northeastern University, organizers are using donations to stock a free pantry and distribute personal protective equipment.
“We are trying to meet a lot of the needs that have been exacerbated or that exist to a greater degree as a result of the pandemic,” said Neha Tallapragada, 19, a sophomore who helped start an aid network at Rice University.
In a common model, students send requests for small amounts of money, and network organizers send them funds using payment apps like Venmo.
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