The quick takeaway is that school is that for the most vulnerable kids, school is about a lot more than education. Taking school away from those kids can be much more damaging than many people realize.
It seems to me like that right strategy would be to just say something like:
We encourage all kids to stay home, but if you can't, that's ok. You can come to school and have a warm, quiet place to spend the day, and we'll provide free lunch to everyone who comes.
Japan has students come in on alternate days, so that the school can operate at 50% capacity. Mask mandates, social distancing and temperature checks are enforced strictly. Sweden has kept its schooling open (although it has had covid outbreaks, but the numbers were similar to Finland where the schools were closed). Uruguay opened up schools early for its most vulnerable kids. The point being, there are different ways to solve the problem, but only in America, can we be stuck with the worst way to do it.
I always thought that schools should have considered something I saw done at a SANS training course once. While there were ~20 people in attendance, there were also several people attending virtually. Those virtual attendees had a surrogate in the room, whose job was to monitor chat/messages from the virtual attendees and raise his hand to ask a question to the instructor - as if they were there in person. This allowed the instructor to teach the course as he normally would, using a full projection screen, white board, and other materials.
This surrogate method would have allowed teachers to be in their classrooms drawing on blackboards, using charts, posters, and other instructional aids they've spent years building, instead of having to pivot completely to PowerPoint. It's a shame to see absolutely no creativity or thinking outside the box among school administrators.
Plus, schools have tons of unused covid relief money: https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/05/politics/school-federal-covid...
Stop playing the game where you spend money to cover up incompetence or corruption. Don't be a reliable patsy. Some problems only get better if you force the ones responsible to fix it.
Use a classroom to audit their own supplies and needs, and see where money intended for education actually goes. The information should ask be public.
American teachers spend a lot of time, as my Asian mom would always complain, on “arts and crafts.” The volume of construction paper and pipe cleaners and other junk my kids bring home is truly astonishing.
These expenses are symptomatic of curricular problems—and the solution isn’t to allocate more money for craft supplies. It doesn’t cost that much to have kids drill their times tables.
I know a lot of teachers spending money on hygiene products:tampons, deodorant ect, because it is distracting if students are bleeding at their desks and smell like garbage.
2) they also spend money on basic supplies, pens pencils, as well as heaters and coolers for the room because the administration blew the funds on some bs like a marble facade for the school
For (1) the government already gives housing assistance, food stamps and a bunch of other welfare programs, so the parents can easily afford basic hygiene products and they should be paying for it, not the school.
For (2) it is the administration's malice or incompetence that is burning away the money. We shouldn't increase the budget even more, we should hold the administration and the parents accountable.
'There are 130,930 public and private K-12 schools in the U.S.'
$190 billion divided by 130,930 is $1.45 million dollars per school. Now, I will readily grant that a million dollars just ain't what it used to be, but it is, even in 2021, still a heck of a lot of money, and it sure sounds from the raw numbers that public school teachers shouldn't need to spend their own money on basic COVID-19 supplies.
Still find the difference in that so weird. rapid tests are a 2-3 € supermarket item here, if you'd be buying in bulk for a school system they'd be cheaper. And at least some schools/day cares have been doing pool testing.
In multiple cities, political leadership at the mayoral level has been shown to be getting kickbacks and other favorable terms from our dear beloved employers to adopt that technology. In LAUSD it was Villaragosa and Apple.
When we say the money is "wasted", it's because there is corruption at levels higher than any individual school. Usually.
It won’t be an effective means of stopping spread. Instead give out surgical masks or n95 to all kids. Cloth masks allow 90%+ of the virus to enter/leave. Add hepa filters. Add space heaters and leave the windows open. Maybe teach outside in parklet if possible.
That’ll be more effective at preventing spread.
Not covid supplies, school supplies pre-covid (which they also shouldn't have needed to, but did need to nevertheless).
And hiring enough surrogates would eat up a huge chunk of that $1.45 million, given that you'd need, what, ~10 per school for nearly 2 years now? Actually, that's more doable than I expected.
Edit: probably on an alternating assignments basis rather than a "half the students' papers for you, half for me" basis, for grading consistency/fairness reasons
Edit2: Actually, for feedback-latency reasons it's probably better to split grading the other way. I wonder whether it's better to split each assignment randomly, or grade as two separate classes with shared lectures.
When I was a TA we’d split the stack of paper tests evenly and rotate them every few days to grade them in parallel. It’s even easier to do the splitting if tests are submitted online.
And with two teachers, you'd also be able to have each write half the questions, and split the grading that way.
Seems like a human solution to a (mostly) technical problem. Basically you just need a way for students to mark a message as hand-raising (and maybe a way to point out another student's message), a chat filter for the teacher to read those messages, and a USB LED (or some such) to act as a raised hand until the messages are marked as read. Of course there are some edge cases, like temporarily ignoring a child who's repeatedly raising their hand to troll, but this still seems like it could've easily been usable by the start of fall 2020.
You'd likely still need a surrogate for young children and special ed students, but you could probably eliminate ~2/3rds of them (? I'm not sure how old children need to be before they can be expected to remember they need to mark their messages & how to do so)
Our team developed https://sharetheboard.com - an app which digitizes handwritten content in real time. The practical application here is that any analog surface/content can be shared simultaneously online, in real time.
For teachers this is valuable for a number of reasons (direct feedback from educators):
- it allows them to teach "as they always have" - standing in front of a board or writing on a notebook, etc.
- they don't have to learn anything new
- they don't have to buy new equipment
- they can simultaneously address in-person and remote students (again, without "doing anything new")
- they can work (in the same way) from home, when needed
You'll note that many of the above points are of interest to school administrators as well.
- No hardware + no learning curve = high adoption.
- Mobile/scalable = fast deployment.
- Low cost = well, low cost.
For students (direct feedback from students):
- the biggest plus is that this is as close to "like in class" as it gets: they get to see their teacher's natural body language, maintain eye contact, see the explanations evolve on a familiar medium (whiteboard, chalkboard, etc.)
- they can do more than ask questions: the app facilitates direct interaction with digitized content
- they can focus on the lesson: the app allows you to easily save board contents any time
What was meant to be a quick response to a problem is beginning to turn into an actual product. For better or for worse, some form of remote interaction seems to be in the cards (not only in education) for quite some time. Our goal is to help make it a more real/physical experience, despite being shared remotely. Interested in feedback from teachers, parents, and students on this thread.
Isn’t this the natural response to the unknown? Denial? I guess not everyone likes Bayes’ theorem!
There, I just sent another 50 souls to rationalist hell.
(It is impossible to avoid being exposed to omicron or to get rid of it. Social distancing, lockdowns, etc, won't help this one. Vaccinating yourself/N95s/Pavloxid will help exposure not /matter/ though.)
What throws me about all this is that their entire job, the reason they draw a paycheck in the first place, their raisin d'oatmeal, is to keep things running smoothly when the unexpected happens.
Now going into year three and they've managed to do fuck all to create solutions. Which is, y'know, their JOB. Generally they've just made problems worse by sticking their noses into things. What the hell are these people even getting paid for? They're a net negative value to education and society.
Other countries were able to come up with protocols and standards. Yet here we are flailing around like magikarps.
It's like any other collection of people, except maybe what's hard to remember if you're in tech is that in public bureaucracies there's no high pay, inherently "interesting problems," or prestige factor attracting the bright and ambitious; just job security and pensions attracting the risk averse and allowing anyone toxic who makes it in to remain.
The district my wife left had double digits percentage turnover in their senior administrative roles during the pandemic - that would be enough to keep most organizations from operating to their full potential.
Additionally, they really don't get to make their own decisions - not only is there a chain of command but there's a surprising number of things that have to wait for school board approval and quite a few sets of regulations to navigate. I've been in regulated tech like medical device, and my perception is that what the school admins deal with is a whole other level.
While agreeing with everyone that "raisin d'oatmeal" is genius, and while also agreeing that it's clear that the US has basically failed at running public schools, please don't claim the administrators are somehow the sole agents of this. Like many things in this country it's born of a complicated web of political power being wielded in both good and bad faith by people with varying opinions of what would be best across many decades and scales.
It's a pretty tricky job that is largely thankless and the pay is pretty mediocre. I just looked up what a local principal, whom i feel is actually a pretty excellent leader, makes. He's got a masters degree, has 15 years at this district, runs a building of 1200 students, has ~50 directs reporting to him and made $97k last year.
In general, things are never simple, never black and white, never simply good or bad. Things are never executed by just one person, or even one group of people, and are never executed in isolation. Everything is connected to everything else, every variable is dependent on every other variable, every action, good or bad, gets a reaction of some kind, and on and on. Social dynamics are complicated. Political dynamics are complicated. The economic incentives that often drive behavior are everywhere and aren't necessarily thoughtfully created, maintained, or even widely understood.
Its easy and it feels good to get on Twitter or on Hacker News and yell "Yea screw school administrators, they're the problem!" But it is too tidy of a worldview to even approximate being accurate and saying it doesn't help anybody get closer to solving the real problem.
If you want to help, go get involved in your local school system... if you don't... you don't need to have an opinion on every single little thing, just read the article and move along.
Take this parent comment and substitute “academic progress”, “student engagement”, “socio-emotional”, “school safety”, etc for “covid” and you’ve entered the Ed reform debate of the last 20-30 years.
Overcoming COVID in schools requires a collective problem-solving approach that is incompatible with the individualist (e.g. I’m just worried about my kid), class-segregated public school system that we’ve built.
Administrators are culpable but I think their role is akin to an engineer building questionable technology. Why should they buck the system that puts food on their families table, especially when there is no guarantee that doing things differently will lead to a different ultimate outcome?
Anecdotally this plays out in the increase of violence and violent threats toward principals, superintendents and school boards who are trying to institute science-backed rules for dealing with the virus.
But we’re not going to have a third year of COVID anyway. Nearly everyone is going to catch the omicron in the next couple months, and by April we’ll have enough herd immunity to reopen everything.
However for the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years, they set a baseline so that schools received funding based off of their 2019-2020 (preCOVID, normalized) average daily attendance. This was good for big schools that had lower enrollment but caused issues for suburban/rural districts that saw a lot of growth.
In my area I think this is where the vast majority of the district income variance comes from, and it is known about and largely planned for before the year even starts.
Definitely not a dumb question.
On the other hand because the infection is now concentrated in the upper respiratory tract, patients are much more likely to exhale and spread the virus. On top of that, the virus has sufficiently mutated thus existing vaccines and prior infections have very limited protection. Combined with the lack of ventilation and increased time spent indoors in winter, this translates to more infections.
I don't know whether "everyone" is going to get it eventually. However I have heard anecdotes that multiple insular communities in the US that have largely avoided the previous Covid strains are now badly afflicted by omicron. That is how infectious the virus is.
Before the vaccine, people would have chicken pox parties so all the children were exposed simultaneously and everybody could get it over with. With Omicron, it's simply the reverse, it's blowing through everybody so fast that it will burn itself out in a couple months.
After that, it will simply have a constant endemic background level like chicken pox prior to the vaccine and the flu.
We are in the endgame. It isn't the endgame we wanted, but it is the endgame.
However, it's impossible to get rid of it because it infects animals and we're not going to vaccinate them.
> Only has so far it can mutate
I believe the understanding is that the omicron variant may have evolved further in an immuno-compromised person (e.g. with AIDS, or undergoing chemotherapy), since it got to stay in the host longer without being killed by the immune system, it racked up more mutations until it got to its current virulent form and started infecting other people.
And there's absolutely nothing stopping that from happening again I guess.
Before Omicron, we had a hope of creating an R0 < 1 and stamping Covid out. Omicron spreads so well in so many different mammals that it simply wipes that option off the map.
Omicron, irrespective of whether it is mild or not, is simply going to blow through the population no matter what we do. Afterward everybody will have been infected with Covid, vaccinated, or both.
At that point, we'll have a background level of deaths from endemic Covid every year just like we do the flu. Welcome to the new world.
I agree. Just like we do for RSV, other common cold variants, etc. We'll get used to it.
In our community, most of the parents in town are able to work from home. But its a very strange place, and I would expect worse outcomes most other places.
Even so, serious psychiatric illness is tearing the kids up. The child clinical psychologists and the one remaining psychiatrist in town are double-booked, at least.
It's been its own shade of awful.
I don't think that there could have been a better response from the schools here. It's been very difficult to plan for anything more than six weeks out, and the kids who have returned to school have needed more care. And who is caring for the teachers?
I don't know what the dropout rate would be for high schoolers, but many of these kids are just gone. Across all economic levels (the delicate proxy that we use, money lumped in with social status or prevalent parents' level of education and stuff).
Citation? I am familiar with Japan's national Covid policies, and I have heard nothing of this. In general, Japan allows the prefectures to make their own decisions, and for issues like this, prefectures issue requests, not mandates. This paper suggests that even at the outset of the pandemic, the range of NPIs imposed by Japanese schools was quite variable:
This news story from September 2020 explicitly says the exact opposite of what you're implying -- school districts operating at maximum capacity, and interventions varying based on what (for example) the PTA decided to pay for:
"Typical classrooms in Japan would seem to flunk the 3C test, however. In Ms. Katayama's classroom, desks were spaced just enough to walk between. Regulations allow up to 40 children per classroom."
"Last month, a panel of scholars and education researchers in Tokyo launched a petition to urge rapid adoption of smaller classes. Class size "should be reduced to 30 right now, and quickly, to 20," the panel said."
"Japan's Riken research institute, working with Kobe University, argues that even large classes can be held safely — provided ventilation is sufficient."
Japan is a big country, and -- just as with masks -- there's a fair amount of "orientalism" going on in the west, in terms of overgeneralization and stereotyping of their response to the virus. My only overarching observation is that they've been much more relaxed than we are in the US.
Knowledge source: I'm a professor at a University in Tokyo. Nobody can enter campus without a mask and temperature check (not even me, the door to my floor has a facial recognition /thermal check).
Social distancing is also enforced by teachers and staff. There is a max student cap for each room (that his about 30 % of the maximum capacity).
For schools: several of my friends have kids attending elementary school in Tokyo.
Yes, there is a lot of orientalism going on hackernews. lol.
Edit: actually, it doesn't even contradict it, per se. The articles are saying the same thing, but the WaPo story just tries to generalize from a single school, without admitting it. FTA:
> At Hoyonomori Gakuen, a school in Tokyo’s Shinagawa ward, the new rules, including temperature checks, are set down in a 28-point plan designed by the school to minimize risks.
So, again, the schools determine their response. This is also my understanding of the situation.
Not at all. This is the fault of all the other societal damage done in the name of "stopping COVID", it's the fault of the "public health officials".
Schools are constrained by zero covid policies still clung to by anti-science public health, which mandate widespread testing followed by far reaching preventative isolation which bars health students from school.
Imagine you have a class of 20. Each kids in that class goes to 6 other classes of 20, largely different kids. Now one "tests positive". The school is then tasks by "public health" to find who sat near that kid in each and every class, and "quarantine" all of those kids. Rinse and repeat, ever. single. case.
Many schools have realized this is unsustainable absurdity and rightfully stopped complying, but the more "stay safe" they are, the more they comply. Consequently, the less those schools are able to stay open and effective.
The fact that "public health" has not been willing to reevaluate their policies and insist on sticking to policies that are literally damaging to the health of the public is telling.
Just curious, what would you suggest ?
Because as far as I can tell there are no good solutions.
I suppose the difference between our countries is that until university, you get put into class with 30 people, and do all the classes together.
There are some cases when you can have different additional classes, but thats kind of limited to couple of hours a week, and would not be that hard to just leave off
Sweden suffered 1,504 deaths per million, while Finland had 295. To call them "similar" is disinformative, at best.
The picture since then is different than "Finland closed, Sweden open".
Pretty sure most nordic countries have kept high school and below open most of the time.
> "Our study shows that all-cause mortality was largely unchanged during the epidemic as compared to the previous four years in Norway and Sweden, two countries which employed very different strategies against the epidemic," emphasize study authors in this medRxiv paper. 
So apparently Sweden did a better job than Norway of keeping people alive longer before the pandemic, therefore having a larger per-capita population vulnerable to covid.
(It is my understanding that Sweden also fumbled early on protecting those in nursing homes, as many others did. Lots of factors I'm sure, more than just lockdown vs no lockdown.)
I'm not sure about Finland. It is possible the same applies.
It will be a pandemic of 5 to ten years in total.
In short words like you were 5, two factors converged to make this a
1. World for the most part failed to lead like China an stop it cold fast and yes places like the USA gets fair blame for that.
2. Speed of mutations.
Only have one of those factors then it would be far less years of a pandemic.
That is not to say that there is not hope on the near future where we take either a booster or one pill per year to contain it however.
But, 30 years ago a lady wrote a very famous book called.. the Coming Plaque..
She pointed out that it was not Science failing us towards facing the next pandemic but governments putting public health on a diet.
and that books is at archive org
Public health should be a number one Military spending budget as with 9 billion or more it is no longer something that is optional
The virus had spread too widely for that to be possible. If you blame the USA, you also have to blame China for suppressing and destroying early information about the contagion.
I would prefer to blame nobody, since everyone’s systems played a part in the outcome.
Just TRUST your doctors, there's not a conspiracy to make everyone baren or something crazy, the vaccines are safer than going to a bar and having a few drinks.
ironically Covid itself probably has a better chance of making one sterile than the vaccine as ACE receptors are in the testes, and other reproductive organs, so it could sterilize people who get bad infections.
Holy fucking crap.
(Sorry I don't normally react like that, and even given homeless might not be "living on street", that is a horrific statistic)
That said the definition of "homeless" in this count is extremely broad.
For example if you live in a trailer park, you are considered homeless. Even if someone stays temporarily in a hotel or motel, for example because of a fire or flood, will be counted as homeless. Even wider scope, a child who "qualified moved" within the last 36 months is considered migratory i.e. homeless.
(I understand pointing out incomplete [is there a better word?] facts is unpopular.)
Start at the top of the definition -- the statute concerns “individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence”.
Key word is fixed.
Then you have to be familiar with the difference between a trailer -- as in RV, or motor home -- that is not fixed, and one that is fixed to a foundation (sometimes called a manufactured home, or a single/double wide.)
Living out of an RV is homeless, living in a trailer on a pad is not.
For example, it's an incomplete fact to say that "if you live in a trailer park, you are considered homeless", but thankfully you provided the link to the complete fact!
From your source, a little more completeness for your fact:
"living in ...trailer parks... due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations"
Thankfully, it is not true that everyone whose permanent residence is a trailer park is counted as homeless.
Wouldn't this be most people living in trailer parks?
This does not refer to people who's only economic choice generally is trailer parks.
This is what the definition of migratory child is.
(3) MIGRATORY CHILD.—The term ‘‘migratory child’’ means a child or youth who made a qualifying move in the preceding 36 months—
(A) as a migratory agricultural worker or a migratory fisher; or
(B) with, or to join, a parent or spouse who is a migratory agricultural worker or a migratory fisher.
It's not just that they moved (which is what I read from your comment) but they are a child who's parents are migratory workers and moved within 36 months.
>For example if you live in a trailer park, you are considered homeless.
This seems to check out. It's odd in the rest of the definition.
>(i) children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; or are abandoned in hospitals;*
It isn't true that children whose permanent residence is a trailer park are counted as homeless.
To me it reads the following aren't adequate accommodations if they are by themselves (i.e. no other housing): motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds.
I personally don't think a trailer in a trailer park with an address should be categorized as homeless, I'm just trying to interpret the law as a layperson. Maybe trailer parks were different back in 1965 (i.e. no address).
Why does it make sense to count these people as homeless?
And even if you're renting... Why count someone who rents a trailer as homeless but not someone who rents an apartment?
It's a social class thing. It's not about having a reliable, warm, dry, safe place to sleep. It's about whether a middle class university graduate's friends would have considered them to have failed at life. Living in a coffin sized apartment with cockroaches everywhere in New York is something they could see themselves doing at some point in their life for career goals or because of bad luck. A trailer is not the kind of place a university graduate lives in.
Many cities ban you putting an RV on your own plot of land, regardless of the purpose. They often ban trailer parks, severely restrict them, etc to the detriment of many economically vulnerable people. There's often a component of racism too as some trailer parks home lots of immigrants or hispanic folks, marking them doubly undesirables.
Your public contempt is reciprocated by the people you do not respect.
It would be a horrific statistic, if it were even remotely close to being accurate.
The US had 580,000 total homeless in 2020.  That's up from the recent lows before the pandemic when it was ~50,000 lower (and it's dramatically lower than prior to the start of the federal Housing First program).
If the NSBA is claiming 1.4 million, they're knowingly lying and it's despicable.
The US national homelessness rate is comparable to France and Canada.
There’s homeless as in “in a shelter or on the street” and there’s homeless as in “lives temporarily with friends or family”… lots of ways to slice it
It's not working. The additional strain on schools has turned the mission of public education into a series of brush fires in which staff and administrators just lurch from one crisis to another. The unequal way that education gets funded means that some districts see much more of this than others. But the problem is spreading.
Teachers are not trained to function as warehousers for youth. Nor are they given the resources to serve the role you and far too many parents want them to serve.
When the schools fail there is literally nothing behind them. They're the end of the line. This is the point where all the chickens come home to roost and society starts to fail, one kid at a time. The pandemic should be a wake up call. It doesn't look like it will be.
I completely agree. But we can't fix this in the next few weeks, so for now keeping schools open for those who need it is the thing to do.
Much like conferences the "hallway class" is a huge component.
Ass onto that that many kids are bad at focusing on online classes and the whole situation is not up to the standard of in-persin schooling (with current systems).
It just seems like, regardless of our values, the sheer weight of the case rates and staff shortages is going to force closures in the near term if it hasn't already.
If you put a bunch of vulnerable kids in an auditorium together with minimal supervision because you've got an effective teacher:student ratio of 1:50 or worse, is that really better?
(Maybe it is. I'll admit to not having come from a dysfunctional or unsafe home as the author of the linked piece describes, so I may lack some perspective here.)
- Students are generally compelled to be proximate to educational services for long stretches of time. Logistics of not coupling them would be inefficient.
- Students don't learn effectively when they are chronically hungry. Providing education to hungry students isn't maximizing society's investment in these comparatively expensive services.
- Bonus reason: for many students, school is the only institution they have significant contact with, and therefore nobody else is feeding them. Feeding kids is the Right and Moral thing to do.
The difference is there is no super cheap daily meal all students have to choose from. And also kids and public schools can get healthy food if their parents want to/ can afford it.
In my opinion the best case is a society where all kids have parents with the care and understanding to send them to school with nutritious, healthy food. And that students have healthy choices and that they have the means to purchase.
But the kicker, is that in the United States (and some other countries), this is not the case. In the United States, children in dysfunctional or impoverished homes or no home are common enough that it's more efficient to broadly provide support in this manner.
Side note: my wife, who previously was a teacher, and I lived in New Zealand for a few years. New Zealand didn't have a school nutrition program, but probably needed one. My wife did a fair amount of substitute ("relief") teaching in a poor area north of Wellington when we first arrived, and gave her lunch away to hungry students often enough that she knew to pack several sandwiches. So, even countries with comparably strong social supports can run into this issue.
COVID is scourge to the world ... whose is to blame for it? Does any one country benefit from it? What's going on with Covid in China ... when will they rank as the number superpower in the world ... last i saw in the next five to ten years.
If you downvote me do you think the Chinese govt. is one to trust ... good for societies around the world? The world is now living like they were in the 2000s to present... with a mask on!
I mean...that's really up to the parents, not the kids.
The world needs to come down on China's govt or it's just going to get worse for every country that isnt them!
But again, some kids just want to go to school to get some damn food, regardless of age!
Also, maybe it is wrong to disenfranchise immature people. They are people, too.
My impression was that infant mortality was a great deal higher back then, but there wasn’t as big a disparity after that as people tend to assume. People didn’t hit old age in their 50s and 60s, they often lived into their 80s and beyond, just like today.
That’s not to say they wouldn’t continue to benefit, for the rest of their lives, from a nurturing, supportive, diverse community. But they can be a completely productive member of that community.