Teachers are near the front to receive vaccines. Does this mean schools are on the verge of returning to pre-Covid normalcy? Not exactly.
Our colleagues Eliza Shapiro and Shawn Hubler reported this week that it is probably too early for parents to hope that public schools will open anytime soon.
Beyond healthcare workers, who are the first in line, there are an estimated 87 million Americans working in vital industries like food and agriculture, manufacturing, and law enforcement. This includes the country’s three million teachers, but the exact pecking order will vary from state to state – and may not include school nurses, janitors, cafeteria workers, and others. which are also essential to the reopening of classrooms.
Public health experts disagree on whether teachers should have early access to vaccines. Some argue that teachers are safer on the job than many other essential workers, as there is little evidence that schools can fuel community transmission.
Given the complex logistics and limited vaccine supply, inoculation of essential workers could last until spring. Even then, schools will likely have to continue to require masks and distant students, which could make full-time in-person teaching impossible in many districts.
(As we reported, students are unlikely to receive any vaccines until fall as pediatric trials only recently started. And let’s not forget that thousands of teachers have already shown up for work. in classrooms for months without vaccination.)
“The vaccine provides light at the end of the tunnel for many parents who are trying to work, attend distant school and take care of their families,” said our colleague Jessica Grose, Times’s Parenting columnist. “But there is still considerable concern about how the coming months might play out.”
School principals and union leaders have been reluctant to make sweeping promises. Some teachers are concerned about the vaccine itself. Others fear that their districts will force them to consider this as a condition for keeping their jobs.
“Some don’t want to go back unless there’s a vaccine, and others absolutely don’t believe it,” said Marie Neisess, president of the Clark County Education Association, which represents over 18 000 educators in Nevada.
Austin Beutner, superintendent of Los Angeles, said he would like to use the district’s extensive testing infrastructure to routinely immunize teachers, school nurses and others. But he does not expect a return to pre-pandemic conditions before the end of 2021.
All in all, the next few months could be tough. Cases and deaths will most likely remain at high levels throughout the winter, and it is very possible that fierce battles over vaccines could lead to more bitter political battles and uncertainty.
“As a parent, I dropped out this school year,” Jessica said. “But should I also be worried about fall 2021?”
Are snow days canceled now?
It depends on where you live.
There is a large winter storm about to hit the mid-Atlantic and northeast. But in New York City, no matter how much snow falls, public school students will not be able to enjoy the day. With virtual learning now commonplace, Mayor Bill de Blasio said snowy days are “a thing of the past”.
Philadelphia, Denver, Omaha, and many other cities have similar decisions.
“I’m a little sad for the kids on the one hand,” de Blasio said. “On the other hand, we have a lot of learning to do and a lot of catching up.”
In some districts the end of snow days could be permanent: many, if not all, schools have now implemented e-learning procedures, which could be used for bad weather days even after the end of the school year. pandemic.
There are a few resisters: Bondy Shay Gibson, the superintendent of schools in Jefferson County, West Virginia, went viral with letter to parents announcing school is canceled on Thursday.
“For a moment, we can all let go of the worry of making up for the many things we’ve missed by making sure it’s something our kids don’t lose this year,” he wrote. “We’ll get back to the serious and urgent business of growing up on Thursday, but for tomorrow… go build a snowman.”
On this important debate, the authors of your newsletter are not in perfect harmony. Amelia, more recently a kid, couldn’t be more pro-snowday. While in high school, she reveled in soaking socks and melting snowballs.
Adam, with his own young children, is more of a Grinch about the stress of sorting out child care at the last minute. But he admits that the West Virginia superintendent may have warmed his frozen heart a few degrees. Amelia, do you want to build a snowman?
Around the country
Essential workers in Michigan have until the end of the year to apply for free community college tuition. Some 100,000 have already applied.
Public universities in Kansas struggling to balance their budgets in the pandemic could cut majors that attract few students, like history and math.
In Pennsylvania, faculty members are anxious and exhausted after a stressful semester.
A teacher recalled: Michael Kuenstle, associate professor of architecture at the University of Florida, died of complications from the coronavirus on Saturday. He was not teaching in person and had no assignments on campus this semester, a spokesperson for the university told The Chronicle of Higher Education.
A good read: Haden MacDougall, a high school student from Virginia, applies to college. It is always difficult. Right now it’s even more difficult. “I’m really pissed off about this, and I think a lot of my friends are too,” he said. “We did not have all the other tools that were given to us when the pandemic was not in full swing.”
More than 500 teachers in Georgia, Texas and other states called sick in a nationwide protest on Tuesday.
The teacher shortage is becoming dramatic: in November, employment in public schools hit its lowest level since 2000, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Montgomery County, Md., delayed the gradual reopening of students in classrooms until February.
In Ludowici, Georgia., Santa Claus and Ms Claus tested positive after attending a Christmas parade, exposing around 50 children, who are now being asked to attend distance school.
As families grapple with eviction and job loss, there has been an increase in the number of students who change schools and districts mid-year, The 74 reported.
Almost a quarter of high school students Boston did not log on “on any given day this fall,” the Boston Globe reported. Eighteen percent of students in grades six to twelve failed in English in the first term, up from 12.4 percent last year.
An opinion: Richard Carranza, Austin Beutner, and Janice Jackson head the three largest school districts in the United States: New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. They wrote a joint opinion piece in the Washington Post: “We need a Marshall Plan for our schools. And we need it now.
A good read: This article, by Erin Einhorn in NBC News, bluntly sets out the many challenges children face, including mental health issues, food insecurity, and setbacks. A chilling note: “An estimated 3 million vulnerable students – who are homeless, in foster care, disabled or learning English – appear not to be in school at all.”
Tip: a common holiday newsletter
A few mailings ago we suggested that you help your children become journalists with a “state of the block” project. Many of you have sent us examples of these projects – classroom magazines and family newspapers. (Thanks – we’ve read them all.)
If you’re late sending out the greeting cards, invite your kids to do a last minute recap of your family’s year. Our colleague JD Biersdorfer has some helpful tips for creating a vacation newsletter.
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