Pfizer vaccine 91% effective in kids 5-11, study says

Pfizer says Covid vaccine more than 90% effective in kids

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is nearly 91 percent effective at preventing symptomatic infections in children between ages 5 and 11, according to a study released by the FDA Oct. 22. 

The study involved 2,268 children given COVID-19 vaccines that are one-third the dosage of the vaccines given to people ages 12 and up. They were given two doses spaced three weeks apart, the same as the adult version of the vaccine. It found that the children developed antibody levels just as strong as older children and adults given the full dosage.

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee is set to meet Oct. 26 to discuss the evidence and vote on whether to recommend FDA authorization for the shots in kids ages 5 to 11. 

The CDC’s vaccine advisory panel is set to meet the first week of November to discuss recommending the shots for the age group. That means shots for kids ages 5 to 11 could be authorized in the first week of November. There are about 28 million children in the age group in the U.S.

The vaccines will come in orange capped vials to make them easily distinguishable from adult doses, according to ABC News.

Find the full study results here

An unsettling start to the school year

https://mailchi.mp/a2cd96a48c9b/the-weekly-gist-october-1-2021?e=d1e747d2d8

As a long hoped-for sign of the “return to normal”, most children went back to in-person learning this fall. And with the patchwork of COVID safety protocols and masking policies across school districts, classrooms became a learning lab for scientists studying the efficacy of masking and other precautions.

Unsurprisingly, getting a bunch of unvaccinated kids back together caused a surge in pediatric COVID cases. But recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data from 500 counties demonstrate just how effective mask mandates have been at mitigating outbreaks.

The graphic above shows that cases in counties without school mask mandates increased at nearly three times the rate of those with mask mandates. In the five-week period spanning the start of the school year, cases in counties without a mask mandate rose by 62.6 cases per 100K children, while cases in counties with a mask mandate rose by only 23.8 per 100K. COVID outbreaks are incredibly disruptive to learning; according to a recent KFF survey, nearly a quarter of parents report their child has already had to quarantine at home this school year following a possible COVID exposure.

Even once vaccines are approved for children under 12, recent data suggest that a majority of parents will be hesitant to vaccinate their child. Just over half of 12- to 17-year-olds have received at least one dose of the vaccine so far, and only a third of parents of 5- to 11-year-olds plan to vaccinate their child right away, once the shot is approved.

Many want more information, or are worried about side effects—concerns that will best be assuaged by their pediatricians and other trusted sources of unbiased information.

The US Funded Universal Childcare During World War II—Then Stopped

A woman reading a story to three young children at a Child Care Center in New Britain, Connecticut. Photographed by Gordon Parks for Office of War Information, June 1943.

Federally-subsidized childcare centers took care of an estimated 550,000 to 600,000 children while their mothers worked wartime jobs.

When the United States started recruiting women for World War II factory jobs, there was a reluctance to call stay-at-home mothers with young children into the workforce. That changed when the government realized it needed more wartime laborers in its factories. To allow more women to work, the government began subsidizing childcare for the first (and only) time in the nation’s history.

An estimated 550,000 to 600,000 children received care through these facilities, which cost parents around 50 to 75 cents per child, per day (in 2021, that’s less than $12). But like women’s employment in factories, the day care centers were always meant to be a temporary wartime measure. When the war ended, the government encouraged women to leave the factories and care for their children at home. Despite receiving letters and petitions urging the continuation of the childcare programs, the U.S. government stopped funding them in 1946.

Before World War II, organized “day care” didn’t really exist in the United States. The children of middle- and upper-class families might go to private nursery schools for a few hours a day, says Sonya Michel, a professor emerita of history, women’s studies and American studies at the University of Maryland-College Park and author of Children’s Interests/Mothers’ Rights: The Shaping of America’s Child Care Policy. (In German communities, five- and six-year-olds went to half-day Kindergartens.)

For children from poor families whose father had died or couldn’t work, there were day nurseries funded by charitable donations, Michel says. But there were no affordable all-day childcare centers for families in which both parents worked—a situation that was common for low-income families, particularly Black families, and less common for middle- and upper-class families.

The war temporarily changed that. In 1940, the United States passed the Defense Housing and Community Facilities and Services Act, known as the Lanham Act, which gave the Federal Works Agency the authority to fund the construction of houses, schools and other infrastructure for laborers in the growing defense industry. It was not specifically meant to fund childcare, but in late 1942, the government used it to fund temporary day care centers for the children of mothers working wartime jobs.

Communities had to apply for funding to set up day care centers; once they did, there was very little federal involvement. Local organizers structured childcare centers around a community’s needs. Many offered care at odd hours to accommodate the schedules of women who had to work early in the morning or late at night. They also provided up to three meals a day for children, with some offering prepared meals for mothers to take with them when they picked up their kids.

“The ones that we often hear about were the ‘model’ day nurseries that were set up at airplane factories [on the West coast],” says Michel. “Those were ones where the federal funding came very quickly, and some of the leading voices in the early childhood education movement…became quickly involved in setting [them] up,” she says. 

For these centers, organizers enlisted architects to build attractive buildings that would cater to the needs of childcare, specifically. “There was a lot of publicity about those, but those were unusual. Most of the childcare centers were kind of makeshift. They were set up in church basements or garages.”

Though the quality of care varied by center, there hasn’t been much study of how this quality related to children’s race (in the Jim Crow South, where schools and recreational facilities were segregated, childcare centers were likely segregated too). At the same time, the United States was debuting subsidized childcare, it was also incarcerating Japanese American families in internment camps. So although these childcare facilities were groundbreaking, they didn’t serve all children.

Subsidized Childcare Ends When War Ends

Ruth Pease opened the Little Red School House in 1945 in response to the country's request for help in meeting the child care needs of the post-war community.
Ruth Pease opened the Little Red School House in 1945 in response to the country’s request for help in meeting the child care needs of the post-war community.

When the World War II childcare centers first opened, many women were reluctant to hand their children over to them. According to Chris M. Herbst, a professor of public affairs at Arizona State University who has written about these programs in the Journal of Labor Economics, a lot of these women ended up having positive experiences.

“A couple of childcare programs in California surveyed the mothers of the kids in childcare as they were leaving childcare programs,” he says. “Although they were initially skeptical of this government-run childcare program and were worried about the developmental effects on their kids, the exit interviews revealed very, very high levels of parental satisfaction with the childcare programs.”

As the war ended in August 1945, the Federal Works Agency announced it would stop funding childcare as soon as possible. Parents responded by sending the agency 1,155 letters, 318 wires, 794 postcards and petitions with 3,647 signatures urging the government to keep them open. In response, the U.S. government provided additional funding for childcare through February 1946. After that, it was over.

Lobbying for national childcare gained momentum in the 1960s and ‘70s, a period when many of its advocates may have themselves gone to World War II day care as kids. In 1971, Congress passed the Comprehensive Child Development Act, which would have established nationally-funded, locally-administered childcare centers.

This was during the Cold War, a time when anti-childcare activists pointed to the fact that the Soviet Union funded childcare as an argument for why the United States shouldn’t. President Richard Nixon vetoed the bill, arguing that it would “commit the vast moral authority of the National Government to the side of communal approaches to child rearing over against the family-centered approach.”

In this case, “family-centered” meant the mother should care for the children at home while the father worked outside of it—regardless of whether this was something the parents could afford or desired to do. World War II remains the only time in U.S. history that the country came close to instituting universal childcare.

The COVID-19 relief package: Where the money goes

https://www.politifact.com/article/2021/mar/19/covid-19-relief-package-where-money-goes/?fbclid=IwAR0WSCs9C4Rz9x6n-mlIsg7RY4KYM3byEZ3GdoYp3VWB0AIM8s0p_UUzinU

May be an image of text that says 'American Rescue Plan Act Where the money goes (In $billions) Other $129 Transportation $58 COVID/Public health $143 Stimulus Stimuluschecks checks $410 Schools $169_ Unemployment $242 Families $352 State/local aid $360'

IF YOUR TIME IS SHORT

  • The Democratic bill has $410 billion in stimulus checks and $360 billion in aid to state and local governments.
  • Expanded unemployment benefits cost $242 billion.
  • School spending is nearly $170 billion spread out over 10 years.

There are a few big chunks of money in the American Rescue Plan Act that have generated a lot of news coverage and are pretty well known. In response to a reader’s request, we present the whopping $1.86 trillion spending plan in pie chart form. 

There are the $1,400 checks (or more likely deposits) to many citizens or permanent legal residents and their dependents. That comes to about $410 billion.

Aid to state, local, territorial and tribal governments costs about $360 billion.

The bill boosts and extends unemployment benefits. Add another $242 billion.

Over the next 10 years, the law spends nearly $170 billion on education. That includes $129 billion for K-12 schools — both public and private — and about $40 billion for higher education.

The money for vaccines and corralling the coronavirus became a political talking point. Democrats touted the $20-25 billion they included for vaccine supplies and research. Republicans argued that the bill spent less than 10% of its total cost on COVID-19. 

People will parse the numbers in different ways. Some only count money spent directly on vaccine production. Some look more broadly at the economic damage wrought by the virus. We looked for money that went towards health care, whether that meant improving treatment on tribal lands, adding health care workers at clinics, or anything that reduced the health impacts of the pandemic.

We put the bill’s total public health spending at $143 billion.

Within that, the single biggest line item is $47.8 billion for mitigating the disease, a broad description that includes testing and surveillance. There is also $15 billion for COVID-related health care for veterans, $7.6 billion to help community health centers distribute vaccines, and about the same amount to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for roughly the same purpose.

The chart above lays out how the money breaks down.

All of the amounts so far come to $1.3 trillion over 10 years. The bill’s total cost is $1.86 trillion, which leaves about $500 billion dollars to flesh out.

The law has over $40 billion for child care. Money to keep people in their homes and to house the homeless comes to about $44 billion. There is $10 billion to put food on people’s tables. The expected cost of temporarily boosting the child tax credit is $109 billion.

In our chart, we fold all of that, plus subsidies for pensions and health insurance premiums, into the category of support for families. Our total is $352 billion.

Our last distinct category is transportation. Under that umbrella, we put $30 billion for mass transit, $15 billion for the airline industry, $8 billion for airports, and other related activities. That came to $58 billion.

The catch-all bucket of other spending includes items such as $66 billion for businesses, $50 billion for disaster relief at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and $7 billion to expand broadband internet.

1 Million Covid Kids

https://services.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/children-and-covid-19-state-level-data-report/

More than half a million children in the U.S. have had COVID-19

State-level reports are the best publicly available data on child COVID-19 cases in the United States. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association are collaborating to collect and share all publicly available data from states on child COVID-19 cases (definition of “child” case is based on varying age ranges reported across states; see report Appendix for details and links to all data sources).

As of November 12th, over 1 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic. The age distribution of reported COVID-19 cases was provided on the health department websites of 49 states, New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Children represented 11.5% of all cases in states reporting cases by age.

A smaller subset of states reported on hospitalizations and mortality by age; the available data indicated that COVID-19-associated hospitalization and death is uncommon in children.

The number of new child COVID-19 cases reported this week, nearly 112,000, is by far the highest weekly increase since the pandemic began. At this time, it appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is rare among children. However, there is an urgent need to collect more data on longer-term impacts on children, including ways the virus may harm the long-term physical health of infected children, as well as its emotional and mental health effects.

Summary of Findings (data available as of 11/12/20) :

(Note: Data represent cumulative counts since states began reporting)

Cumulative Number of Child COVID-19 Cases*

  • 1,039,464 total child COVID-19 cases reported, and children represented 11.5% (1,039,464/9,037,991) of all cases
  • Overall rate: 1,381 cases per 100,000 children in the population

Change in Child COVID-19 Cases*

  • 111,946 new child COVID-19 cases were reported the past week from 11/5-11/12 (927,518 to 1,039,464)
  • Over two weeks, 10/29-11/12, there was a 22% increase in child COVID-19 cases (185,829 new cases (853,635 to 1,039,464))

Testing (10 states reported)*

  • Children made up between 5.0%-17.4% of total state tests, and between 3.9%-18.8% of children tested were tested positive

Hospitalizations (23 states and NYC reported)*

  • Children were 1.2%-3.3% of total reported hospitalizations, and between 0.5%-6.1% of all child COVID-19 cases resulted in hospitalization

Mortality (42 states and NYC reported)*

  • Children were 0.00%-0.21% of all COVID-19 deaths, and 16 states reported zero child deaths
  • In states reporting, 0.00%-0.15% of all child COVID-19 cases resulted in death

* Note: Data represent cumulative counts since states began reporting; All data reported by state/local health departments are preliminary and subject to change

Download Full Report  (11/12/2020) 

Download Full Report  (11/5/2020) 

Download Full Report  (10/29/2020) 

Additional Information

The kids are not all right

https://mailchi.mp/0e13b5a09ec5/the-weekly-gist-august-21-2020?e=d1e747d2d8

Many children heading back to school—in whichever form that that may take this fall—have skipped their annual visit to the pediatrician. The graphic above highlights the sluggish rebound in pediatric ambulatory volume. While adult primary care visits have mostly bounced back, pediatric visits are still 26 percent below pre-COVID levels.

The drop in visits early in the pandemic also impacted immunizations, with 2.5M regular childhood vaccinations missed in the US during the first quarter of 2020—and early data suggests those seem to be rebounding at a similarly anemic rate.

This lack of pediatric routine care is particularly worrisome as COVID-19 cases in children are climbing, with a 90 percent increase from July to August. Though most of the nation’s largest public school districts have opted to begin the school year with online learning, some districts have already returned to in-person classes, and, unsurprisingly, new cases are already being reported.

While COVID-19 is normally neither severe nor fatal in children, infections among school-age kids put others at risk. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly a quarter of teachers (1.5M) are considered high-risk and almost six percent of seniors (3.3M) live with school-aged children.

Without the traditional back-to-school push for well-child visits, sports physicals, and immunization updates, healthcare providers must think creatively about how to give children with the care they need, whether through personalized communication from pediatricians that assuages parental concerns about office safety, or through more innovative means such as drive-thru vaccination services.

 

 

 

Wave of evictions expected as moratoriums end in many states

https://apnews.com/833d91877e2f0fa913c5258978a9e83c

Wave of evictions expected as moratoriums end in many states

Kelyn Yanez used to clean homes during the day and wait tables at night in the Houston area before the coronavirus. But the mother of three lost both jobs in March because of the pandemic and now is facing eviction.

The Honduran immigrant got help from a local church to pay part of July’s rent but was still hundreds of dollars short and is now awaiting a three-day notice to vacate the apartment where she lives with her children. She has no idea how she will meet her August rent.

“Right now, I have nothing,” said Yanez, who briefly got her bar job back when the establishment reopened, but lost it again when she and her 4-year-old daughter contracted the virus in June and had to quarantine. The apartment owners “don’t care if you’re sick, if you’re not well. Nobody cares here. They told me that I had to have the money.”

Yanez, who lives in the U.S. illegally, is among some 23 million people nationwide at risk of being evicted, according to The Aspen Institute, as moratoriums enacted because of the coronavirus expire and courts reopen. Around 30 state moratoriums have expired since May, according to The Eviction Lab at Princeton University. On top of that, some tenants were already encountering illegal evictions even with the moratoriums.

Now, tenants are crowding courtrooms — or appearing virtually — to detail how the pandemic has upended their lives. Some are low-income families who have endured evictions before, but there are also plenty of wealthier families facing homelessness for the first time — and now being forced to navigate overcrowded and sometimes dangerous shelter systems amid the pandemic.

Experts predict the problem will only get worse in the coming weeks, with 30 million unemployed and uncertainty whether Congress will extend the extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits that expired Friday. The federal eviction moratorium that protects more than 12 million renters living in federally subsidized apartments or units with federally backed mortgages expired July 25. If it’s not extended, landlords can initiate eviction proceedings in 30 days.

“It’s going to be a mess,” said Bill Faith, executive director of Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, referring to the Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey, which found last week that more than 23% of Ohioans questioned said they weren’t able to make last month’s rent or mortgage payment or had little or no confidence they could pay next month’s.

Nationally, the figure was 26.5% among adults 18 years or older, with numbers in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Nevada, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, New York, Tennessee and Texas reaching 30% or higher. The margins of error in the survey vary by state.

“I’ve never seen this many people poised to lose their housing in a such a short period of time,” Faith said. “This is a huge disaster that is beginning to unfold.”

Housing advocates fear parts of the country could soon look like Milwaukee, which saw a 21% spike in eviction filings in June, to nearly 1,500 after the moratorium was lifted in May. It’s more than 24% across the state.

“We are sort of a harbinger of what is to come in other places,” said Colleen Foley, the executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee.

“We are getting calls to us from zip codes that we don’t typically serve, the part of the community that aren’t used to coming to us,” she added. “It’s a reflection of the massive job loss and a lot of people facing eviction who aren’t used to not paying their rent.”

In New Orleans, a legal aid organization saw its eviction-related caseload almost triple in the month since Louisiana’s moratorium ended in mid-June. Among those seeking help is Natasha Blunt, who could be evicted from her two-bedroom apartment where she lives with her two grandchildren.

Blunt, a 50-year-old African American, owes thousands of dollars in back rent after she lost her banquet porter job. She has yet to receive her stimulus check and has not been approved for unemployment benefits. Her family is getting by with food stamps and the charity of neighbors.

“I can’t believe this happened to me because I work hard,” said Blunt, whose eviction is at the mercy of the federal moratorium. “I don’t have any money coming in. I don’t have nothing. I don’t know what to do. … My heart is so heavy.”

Along with exacerbating a housing crisis in many cities that have long been plagued by a shortage of affordable options, widespread discrimination and a lack of resources for families in need, the spike in filings is raising concerns that housing courts could spread the coronavirus.

Many cities are still running hearings virtually. But others, like New Orleans, have opened their housing courts. Masks and temperature checks are required, but maintaining social distance has been a challenge.

“The first couple of weeks, we were in at least two courts where we felt really quite unsafe,” said Hannah Adams, a staff attorney with Southeast Louisiana Legal Services.

In Columbus, Ohio, Amanda Wood was among some 60 people on the docket Friday for eviction hearings at a convention center converted into a courtroom.

Wood, 23, lost her job at a claims management company in early April. The following day, the mother of a 6-month-old found out she was pregnant again. Now, she is two months behind rent and can’t figure out a way to make ends meet.

Wood managed to find a part-time job at FedEx, loading vans at night. But her pregnancy and inability to find stable childcare has left her with inconsistent paychecks.

“The whole process has been really difficult and scary,” said Wood, who is hoping to set up a payment scheduled after meeting with a lawyer Friday. “Not knowing if you’re going to have somewhere to live, when you’re pregnant and have a baby, is hard.”

Though the numbers of eviction filings in Ohio and elsewhere are rising and, in some places reaching several hundred a week, they are still below those in past years for July. Higher numbers are expected in August and September.

Experts credit the slower pace to the federal eviction moratorium as well as states and municipalities that used tens of millions of dollars in federal stimulus funding for rental assistance. It also helped that several states, including Massachusetts and Arizona, have extended their eviction moratorium into the fall.

Still, experts argue more needs to be done at the state and federal level for tenants and landlords.

Negotiations between Congress and the White House over further assistance are ongoing. A $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed in May by Democrats in the House would provide about $175 billion to pay rents and mortgages, but the $1 trillion counter from Senate Republicans only has several billion in rental assistance. Advocacy groups are looking for over $100 billion.

“An eviction moratorium without rental assistance is still a recipe for disaster,” said Graham Bowman, staff attorney with the Ohio Poverty Law Center. “We need the basic economics of the housing market to continue to work. The way you do that is you need broad-based rental assistance available to families who have lost employment during this crisis.”

“The scale of this problem is enormous so it needs a federal response.”

 

 

 

 

Nope, Kids Not ‘Almost Immune’ to COVID-19 at Georgia Camp

https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/87849?xid=fb_o&trw=no&fbclid=IwAR2HZ0s8huLi4I5pgLbA-21a4g65bl1kH6j1r_cWfJpyOwvkJrfHJMFCKEU

Nope, Kids Not 'Almost Immune' to COVID-19 at Georgia Camp ...

Even with mitigation measures, attack rates outpaced the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

President Trump’s repeated statements that children are “almost immune” to COVID-19 got a fact check from state and federal public health investigators examining an outbreak at a Georgia summer camp.

Among 597 Georgia residents, including campers, staff members, and trainees, the attack rate was 44%, reported Christine M. Szablewski, DVM, of the Georgia Department of Public Health, and colleagues.

The attack rate was highest among staff members (56%). Younger children ages 6-10 had a rate of 51%, those ages 11-17 had a rate of 44%, and those ages 18-21 had a rate of 33%, the authors wrote in an early edition of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

By contrast, 19% of Diamond Princess cruise ship passengers tested positive for COVID-19 in February and March.

Among 136 cases with symptom information available, 26% reported no symptoms, with the authors specifically characterizing asymptomatic transmission as “common.” The flip side of that figure, however, is that a minimum of 100 children did develop symptoms. The report did not address symptom severity, outcomes, or transmission after leaving camp, as the investigation is still continuing, the authors indicated.

“This investigation adds to the body of evidence demonstrating that children of all ages are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and, contrary to early reports, might play an important role in transmission,” Szablewski and colleagues wrote.

Until recently, data on U.S. children contracting COVID-19, a key point in the argument to reopen schools, were scarce and conflicting. But recent evidence chipped away at the claim that kids are unaffected, with new research emerging this week about the association between school closures and declines in number of cases and deaths. Researchers also found children under age 5 may have far more SARS-CoV-2 viral nucleic acid in their noses than adults, which raises questions about their ability to transmit the virus.

While sleepover camps are not schools, and staff members are not teachers, the authors said the camps adopted CDC guidelines for youth and summer programs. All trainees, staff members, and campers provided documentation of a negative test for SARS-CoV-2. Cloth masks were required for staff members, though not campers, and the camp did not open doors and windows for increased ventilation, as recommended. Campers engaged in “a variety of indoor and outdoor activities,” including “daily vigorous singing and cheering,” they said.

The session was scheduled for June 21-27, and on June 23, a teenage staff member left after developing chills one day prior. The staff member tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. On June 24, campers were sent home, and on June 27, the camp was closed.

However, the damage was done. After excluding out-of-state attendees, researchers examined data from 597 Georgia residents at the camp. Campers were a median age of 12, and 53% were girls, while staff members were a median age of 17, and 59% were girls.

Of the 344 available testing results, 76% were positive for SARS-CoV-2. Not surprisingly, they found attack rates increased with increased time spent at the camp. Average occupancy was 15 per cabin, with a median attack rate of 50% among 28 cabins with one or more positive cases.

Among 100 patients reporting symptom data, two-thirds had fever, about 60% had headache, and 46% had a sore throat.

While the researchers said “consistent and correct” use of cloth masks, as well as physical distancing measures, should be emphasized to mitigate transmission in “congregate settings,” they acknowledged that “the multiple measures adopted by the camp were not sufficient to prevent an outbreak in the context of substantial community transmission.”

“An ongoing investigation will further characterize specific exposures associated with infection, illness course, and any secondary transmission to household members,” the group added.

 

 

 

 

The burden on teachers

https://www.axios.com/teachers-worry-school-reopening-coronavirus-4f173e1b-f48f-49ad-a319-0b053ddd7295.html

The burden on teachers in reopening the schools - Axios

The debate over whether and how much to re-open schools in the fall has put teachers in the precarious position of choosing between their own safety and the pressures from some parents and local officials.

Why it matters: Teachers are the core of K-12 education. The people we depend on to educate our society’s children may end up bearing the brunt of both the risk and the workload.

What’s happening: With coronavirus cases spiking in many parts of the U.S., districts are weighing the feasibility of keeping classes all virtual, as Los Angeles and San Diego are doing, or conducting a rotation of in-person and remote lessons.

While all back-to-school options have pros and cons, there are specific worries for teachers.

1. Exposure: Despite a child’s overall low health risk if they contract COVID-19, scientists still do not conclusively know if schools could become hotspots for more vulnerable populations.

  • Schools are on a time and money crunch for better ventilation, more disinfectant and masks and proper social distancing techniques. If a cluster of cases do occur, teachers and parents are short on answers about how to isolate students and contact trace.
  • Districts were already facing staffing shortages before the pandemic. And nearly 1.5 million teachers have a condition that puts them at increased risk of serious illness from coronavirus, per a Kaiser Family Foundation study. A separate KFF study out today found that 3.3 million adults age 65 or older live in a household with school-age children.
  • A study in Germany found that infections in schools had not led to outbreaks in the community. But an analysis of a surge of cases in Israel found that nearly half the reported cases in June were traced back to illness in schools.

“We as teachers prepare for active shooters, tornadoes, fires and I’m fully prepared to take a bullet or shield a child from falling debris during a tornado. But if I somehow get it and I’m asymptomatic and I get a student sick and something happens to them or one of their family members, that’s a guilt I would carry with me forever.”

— Michelle Albright, a second grade teacher from northwest Indiana

2. Difficulty of a hybrid approach: Many school districts like New York City are opting to split school between in-person and online to minimize exposure. That’s an effective but more burdensome approach for teachers, top teachers union chief Randi Weingarten told Axios’ Dan Primack Monday.

  • In-person contact with a teacher can make a big difference for students struggling with a concept or who need one-on-one time.
  • But many teachers will have to prepare virtual and in-person lessons and ensure the same learning outcomes for students in both settings — a tall order.

3. Child care availability: Teachers with children of their own are concerned about how to care for them when they are teaching.

  • States could choose to provide child care services for educators as essential employees, but it’s unclear what non-school child care options will be available in areas with high infection rates or where day care centers have struggled to stay in business.

4. Concerns of other school staff: Bus drivers, custodians, classroom aides, administrative staff, cafeteria workers, school nurses and substitute teachers may come in contact with more children throughout the day because they are less likely than teachers to be confined to a single classroom.

What to watch: School districts ought to be finding other roles for teachers who are not comfortable returning to the classroom, such as reassigning them to virtual-only roles or providing one-on-one online tutoring sessions with students, said John Bailey, visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former domestic policy adviser during the George W. Bush administration.

  • But there’s not much time to sort that out on top of getting teachers the professional development they need for effective remote learning.
  • “What I worry about is that we squandered the few months we had to make sure we can think through these challenges,” Bailey said. “This was one of the most obvious challenges facing schools with reopening and we should have been thinking about that for the last several months. Instead it’s creeping up on districts.”

The bottom line: Due to the unprecedented nature of this pandemic, teachers are worried about the uncertainties and, in some cases, lack of clear planning should conditions worsen. That may drive some to quit teaching altogether.

  • “You’ve got 25% of teachers who may be in either a high-risk situation because of pre-existing conditions or because of age, and a lot of them, if they can, they may just check out and say ‘nobody’s taking care of me. I can’t go back,'” Weingarten said.