Alison Operating, Kids Middle School, Corey Turner discussed on All Things Considered


From NPR news. This is all things considered. I'm Elsa Chang and I'm Sarah McCammon. Parents, teachers and students across the country are gearing up for the new school year. But what that new school year will look like, is a huge question. Mark. We asked listeners for your questions about reopening schools here to answer. Some of those questions are NPR science correspondent Alison Operating High, Ellison. Hi there, Sarah. And NPR education correspondent Corey Turner. Hey, Corey. I want to start with a question we got from Kris Slater in Massachusetts. The question is, Are kids really less likely to contract cloven 19? Alison? I've heard this question a lot in the debate over schools. What is the most recent science about how the Corona virus is affecting kids? Sure. Well, kids definitely do get the virus now. Overall, they tend not to get a sick as adults. But I spoke to pediatrician Erin Carroll of Indiana University about what we do and don't know about transmission. There seems to be less transmission from kids to adults thin there is adults. Two adults. Kids don't seem to be super spreaders. We don't have reports of sort of, you know a kid going somewhere and spreading it. To a bunch of other kids. We've been a bunch of other adult, but here's the concerns there are we pretty much closed schools in March, right as the virus started to circulate more widely, So we have not been in a situation to find out of kids might actually be super spreaders. Yet there's still quite a bit of uncertainty. Chris in Chandler, Arizona, sent in this question. If the doctors and infectious disease experts could snap their fingers and implement their ideal plan without any of the normal political loopholes. What would it look like? Inquiry? What do we know about how it would look? And is it possible? So I think if you talk to school leaders and say, what is your ideal, they would say, without hesitation, bringing all the kids back. They know that Children are safer in there Schools. There are lots of kids in this country who are, for example, food insecure who may be experiencing abuse at home, not to mention the The obvious academic benefits of simply being in school. We know that remote learning is it's just not that good. But then what would that look like Having all kids in school? Ideally, they would still be socially distant. Ideally, kids will be wearing masks. The challenge, though, is ideal runs headlong into the rial. You start shrinking classrooms down when you space out desks and suddenly you have to put those extra kids in the gymnasium or you start having class outside and then suddenly you also need more teachers to be able to do that. I'm not sure there is reconcile ing the ideal with the rial. And Alison. What is the science behind these recommendations? Sure. Well, I mean, if you look at masking, for instance, many states have masking mandates for schools. Often it's for older kids Middle school in up But increasingly given all the new evidence on masking infectious disease, pediatricians say it makes sense to try to mask all students as much as possible. I think the best hope we have for getting our kids back in school is to keep community spread of the virus low and how do you do that? Will you do it by keeping people out of crowded bars and restaurants? By taking all the precautions at home? We've been hearing so much about Essential, distancing them asking the hand washing, so we kind of all have a role here. We're hearing a lot about how useful testing would be in theory to help stop the spread of the virus. Julie in Seattle, Washington asked Are any school district's planning on site? Covert testing? So are they And if not, why not? So I have only heard Anna totally of one district in Illinois that is considering doing this, And that's because they have a special relationship with the university nearby, which is doing some unique testing. For the most part, though, what I've heard from district leaders is testing is expensive. It's a question of access. It's a question of staffing and logistics. So for the most part, I think what we're going to see school's doing is maybe temperature checks. I think Also, schools are really just moving toe having parents in some way every morning. Attest to the fact that their Children are not showing symptoms and that they took their temperature. Yeah, I agree. Cory is going to come down to really the honor system right? Because think about it. I mean, it's just not feasible to do a daily temperature check at school or on the bus every day. It's also not the best screening tool because being told that a lot of kids with the virus don't spike a fever, so asking about symptoms and you know families being honest about their kids symptoms and keeping kids home When they do have symptoms may be the better way. Back to that idea if we all have a role to play here. Big question here that we got from teachers and parents from Jane in Long Beach, California, she asked What happens when a student or teacher test positive for covert 19? Will the whole school be quarantined for two weeks and then retested? Cory, What are you hearing from school leaders you talked to about that lots of schools are trying to divide kids into what they're calling pods. So that the same small group of Sei Tan or 12 kids will be together all day, so that if there is a reported infection from one of those 12 kids Then, ideally, you're only quarantining 12 kids instead of every child in the building. Now, a question that gets to some of the logistics we've been talking about. Let's listen to this one. My name is Lynn Brody from Phoenix, Arizona. And my question is, is the government going to give more funding to reduce class size and provide more teachers? So is it. This is the question on the minds and mounds of every school leader and teacher. I have spoken with so quick overview. Congress did pass the cares Act a while ago. That included about 13.5 1,000,000,000 with a B dollars for K 12 schools. But just about anybody who works in and around or on behalf of schools will tell you they need at least 10 times as much. Not on Ly to cover the costs of Cove ID, but also because this is happening at the same time that we're experiencing a pretty crushing recession, and so state budgets are absolutely slashing. Their education budgets. It's also I think interesting and important context for President Trump's very really push when he called a pressure campaign last week to reopen schools. There has been very little talk from his administration on actually helping schools pay for any of this. So Lynn, that is a great question. To which there remains no answer. Alison inquiry as you look ahead to this unprecedented started school this fall. What are you going to be watching for? I think I'll be looking for what are we going to learn about transmission? Are kids indeed spreading it in this classroom setting? That's a really, really important question to answer and Corey I am going to be looking at the mental health toll that this has taken not only on teachers and parents. Obviously, we've talked a lot about that, but on kids I feel like I have heard from a lot of educators and a lot of kids and I've seen it myself. I think this has been incredibly difficult on kids and as obliterated Many support systems for kids. It has distanced them from many of the very important grownups in their lives, and obviously the other kids in their lives. And that is going to take a toll that is a trauma. And I don't even think we've begun to reckon with that. I completely agree Korea. I mean, I want my kids back in school. I think my hope is that everyone heeds the warnings and messages coming from public health experts and infectious disease experts that we all have to do the right thing. If we plan to keep schools open and sent her kids to school. A question that I, too and wrestling with and we so many of us across this country are wrestling with as we look ahead to the school year. Thanks so much to you both for helping his field. These questions from.

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