Monday, July 27, 2020

In Case You Missed It – July 27, 2020

Here are links to last week's articles receiving attention in NEIFPE's social media. Keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education.

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No State Has Met CDC Guidelines for Steadily-Decreasing COVID Cases, So Let’s Open Schools.

This article was written before the Trump administration coerced the CDC to change its recommendations and rewrite the guidelines for school reopening. The link to the CDC guidelines in this post is to the original guidelines, published early in the pandemic without any political influence.

From Mercedes Schneider's Blog: Deutsch29
As of this writing, no state has met the May 2020 Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for moving into Phase 1 (“Downward trajectory or near-zero incidence of documented cases over a 14-day period) muct less the additional criteria for entering Phase 2 (“Downward trajectory or near-zero incidence of documented cases for at least 14 days after entering Phase 1).

That’s 28 days of supposed “downward trajectory” prior to entering Phase 2, and that assumes increased testing.

Also in phase 2, COVID-19 test results are supposed to be available in three days or less. That is not happening.

Indiana mandates masks at school for most students and teachers

Where will the money come from to provide protective equipment for students and staff?

From Chalkbeat*
Indiana will require all students in third grade and above, teachers, and school staff to wear masks when they return to school buildings this fall, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Wednesday.

The mandate is a significant move from Holcomb, who has steadfastly deferred decisions about reopening to school leaders — one that signals the slowing momentum of a state once barreling forward with ambitious plans to reopen all schools in person. But it’s unlikely to ease all the fears educators have raised as school start dates loom.

The requirement, which previous political rhetoric made seem improbable, is part of a larger statewide mandate brought on by a rising number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Last week, more than 7% of people in Indiana were testing positive for the coronavirus, according to state data, up from a low of 4% last month. Starting Monday, the state will require people ages 8 and older to wear masks while in public indoor spaces.

Pence says schools reopening 'best thing for our kids'

Not a word about the danger to adults who work in schools. Children do not attend school in a vacuum. They have parents at home, possibly grandparents, as well as a myriad of adults who work in school buildings. Any of those adults might be threatened by exposure to COVID-19. Schools should open only when it is safe.

(also see Pence, DeVos push to reopen schools during Indiana visit)

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Pence discussed the importance of in-person learning for at-risk students, citing resources for counseling and special needs and children who rely upon school lunches.

“The risk of the coronavirus to healthy children is very low,” Pence said. “It’s also important to remember that there are real costs, far beyond academics, to our kids if they’re not in school.”

The science of how COVID-19 affects children is unclear, as several studies suggest, but don’t prove, that children are less likely to become infected than adults and more likely to have only mild symptoms.


SACS won't start school year early: Will begin Aug. 12 to allow teachers to prep

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Southwest Allen County Schools' plans for an early start to the 2020-21 academic year were scrapped Wednesday so teachers and staffers can better prepare for a new learning option for middle and high school students.

Registration was another driver for delaying classes until Aug. 12, Superintendent Phil Downs said.

“Speaking for the team at SACS, we want to thank you for your patience and help as we work to provide a safe, high quality education for your children,” Downs said in an email to families.

Health official likes EACS plan: Praises use of face masks in district's reentry strategy

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The 10,000-student district will use strategies similar to those previously announced by other Allen County districts. Families may choose an e-learning option, meal choices will be limited, hand washing will be stressed, assigned seating will be common, regular cleaning and disinfecting habits will be practiced, and facial coverings will be required, although not in every instance.

At least one parent has asked whether families can sign a waiver to avoid the mask requirement for their children, Superintendent Marilyn Hissong said.

She invited [Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Matthew] Sutter to explain the purpose behind facial coverings.

“It's to protect everybody their child comes in contact with,” Sutter said.

He praised local schools for incorporating mask requirements in their plans as a way to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

“Masks are probably the most important thing, along with social distancing, in stopping the spread of this,” Sutter said. “I was really impressed by the way the public school systems got together with this.”

Teachers favor delay to start of FWCS year

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
In a survey posted Monday, more than 90% favored delaying the school year, Vohs said, noting there were more than 1,700 responses by mid-afternoon Tuesday.

Vohs noted the percentage reflected the overall results, which included some input from non-teachers. The majority of respondents identified themselves as FWCS teachers, she said.

The survey also asked teachers whether they are considering not returning to their position because of health concerns; their comfort level with the FWCS reopening plan; and whether they would support a virtual start for all students, among other questions.

Teachers could also select why they support a delayed start. Options included to allow adequate time for scheduling adjustments based on parent preferences; to avoid the extreme heat of August when requiring people to wear masks; to consider additional and updated data regarding COVID-19, such as community infection rates; and to provide “rehearsal” time for new daily cleaning and sanitation practices.


New Study: There Is NO Relationship Between International Test Scores and Economic Growth

Now would be the perfect time to end high stakes testing and school grades!

From Diane Ravitch
...A decade ago, when I wrote The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, I quoted a study by Keith Baker, a statistician who worked for many years in the U.S. Department of Education. Baker pointed out that the U.S. had placed last in the first international assessment in 1964, yet over the next half-century had outperformed the eleven nations with higher scores. He concluded then that test scores do not predict economic growth or anything else. Every time the results of a new international assessment are released, whoever is in charge says that the performance of the U.S. students is horrible, shameful, alarming, and proclaims “a new Sputnik moment.” And every time I point out that the U.S. has never been number one on international assessments and that these scores are meaningless. But the press reports the lamentations without contradiction anyway.

*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, EdChoice, Gates Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and others.

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has changed its online access and is now behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both, are available with a subscription. Staying informed is important, and one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information go to


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