Japan, Italy, New York City discussed on The Takeaway

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The New York City students are worried hundreds of teens have already signed petitions asking for their schools to suspend the classes some countries have already shut school doors and sent all students home to wait out the virus in Japan and in Italy all schools are closed and in China tens of thousands of courses have moved online the big question right now can closing schools disrupting the education of tens of millions of students help contain the outbreak let's talk about killing those who is with us she's a national education reporter for Chalkbeat kill and welcome to the takeaway thanks so much for having me also with us is runner Dylan he's a physician and faculty member in global health equity at Brigham and women's hospital running pledge you could join us great to be with you runner how common is it for schools to close in reaction to public health situations like this so there's a long history of using school closures at times were when we've had epidemics in the past even as recently as the two thousand nine flu season there were some school closures done then the data on how well school closures work is mixed and some of that is that the fact that it really depends on how it's executed and when it's executed so there are situations where it can make sense to do that and a lot of that hinges on what the picture of the epidemic in the local community is at any moment to determine what it whether it makes sense or not to go that route so what's the thinking here is it that we want to protect the children or are we trying to stop them from spreading the virus how how do we think about school closings in an epidemic we think about school closings we think about both of those factors and oftentimes protecting children first and foremost in fact Japan is close all the schools primarily because there was an interest in trying to protect kids from getting sick one thing we've learned early scenes so far with this corona virus epidemic is that children seem to be the ones that are either getting infected the least or more likely having only milder symptoms when infected or not getting a serious illness as older adults especially are getting and so protecting children still part of the factor but really standing out transmission is going to be a big reason to consider school closures as this epidemic seems to be ramping up in the U. S. and a lot of that is that kids even when they may not be getting so ill themselves are certainly gonna be transmitting to one another and then those kids are going to go to their homes and then be able to propagate the virus further to run you are US standards similar to those in Italy and in Japan well across the board it seems that countries will issue some kind of nationwide guidance but then leave it to the discretion of the local schools or local school districts for example in the UK their national guidance is to hold back on school closures yet they're also letting their local school principals decide if the situation in the area merits it looks it generally speaking our recommendations are similar which is to say that if you have pockets of transmission especially transmission beyond known cases where you think that their virus might be spreading unseen in the community then it makes sense to consider closing schools at least until you get a grip on what that transmission is and more importantly till that peak of transmission has subsided so the what we do know from studying past epidemics when school closures have been done is that what school closures can do more clearly than anything else is reduce the peak rate of infection meaning trying to limit the intensity of having hundreds and hundreds of cases at any one moment when this when especially the health system would get overwhelmed by track and respond to them in two cases you said a key word here a new closing schools at least until the peak has subsided how long could at least be well when when talking about a peak not so much the peak of the epidemic global you're going nationally but really locally so right now from one of the challenges we're facing is we don't have a clear understanding of where transmission or how wide the transmission is happening in the U. S. because of the lack of testing so it's an issue that I know it's been talked about a lot in the media elsewhere but once we actually have to have a sense of how much transmission is happening where it's happening we'd be able to understand better the way to you school closures but right now our ideas are just that sense we have is that there are communities where you have localized transmission so what you wanna do is as you have cases moving to me maybe new areas you may close schools to prevent that the Democrats taking root in that community and from spreading widely making sure that whatever cases may a filter into the community you can it'll contain and then once you feel like you have a grip on that on the on those cases you can then potentially reopen schools and that way we have mitigated the chance for the virus to really spread widely in that community of that school district one has the CDC told schools so far so so far most of what they've communicated has been around developing emergency plans they want schools to look at their infectious disease plans make sure that they have lines of communication open with their parents make sure that they're instructing children to wash their hands not to touch their face a lot of schools are continuing what they would normally do to clean services that are often touched they're making sure that others are doing what they would normally do and then there's also been some talk about trying to plan for a disruption in learning so we've been seeing a lot of schools haven't made it as far on that and so what whether or not they decide to take up virtual learning or they try some other method it's kind of something that remains to be seen and will certainly depend on how long the schools are closed for from a systemic view Killin what would extended school closures mean for students and for parents so there's a number of challenges that could pose a lot of students rely on their breakfast and lunch to come from school so the CDC has issued some guidance around maybe there could be places where students could calm and still get food there's a lot of concern around the continuity of learning and so if you had schools closed for a few days it probably wouldn't be that disruptive but if we're talking about long term closures were schools would have to be closed for weeks or months at a time certainly they would have to come up with a plan to continue learning a lot of schools are not set up right now for remote learning and so we're starting to see confusion about whether or not schools would be able to do that a lot of students don't have internet at home or may not have devices at home to be able to do that so we do see some teachers are starting to prepare for that but whether or not that could be implemented on a wide scale it really remains to be seen so we're really seeing in the inequality being exposed by the corona virus because some students are gonna have to stay home others will have resources but some will not is that what you're telling me yeah I mean one thing that we've seen in other countries where there's been widespread closures is that parents who've been able to work from home are an advantage they're able to supervise their children or low even that is very difficult if you're working from home to be able to watch your child while they're taking lessons versus other parents who may not be able to stay home with their children around the clock and monitor them while they're doing their school work that's certainly an equity issue the equity issue it has also to do with whether they have the devices and internet at home we have seen during other natural disasters like the wildfires in California some districts have invested in buying devices and buying wifi routers for children and then distributing them so they can take those lessons but those are a lot harder to do you know when you're doing it on a wider scale and if you don't have a lot of time to prepare most experts say it's really hard to implement an online learning plan if you haven't already been laying the groundwork to do so running earlier you mentioned that kids seem less subset double to the corona virus although I understand a lot of that is still we're still trying to understand it but does that means that if you are younger than eighteen you less susceptible or is there a particular age range what what are we talking about here yes so far from the data that's available from the from the case reports that we've gotten from different countries it really looks like the the front of infectious action is happening among among adults older than eighteen and the the pit that patients were developing the more serious version of the illness and and that that's have been clustered among people who work on it even in older age bracket and also have other pre existing health conditions among kids school going age you know in one report it was less than three percent of the cases were detected among them and the number that you've ever developed severe illness was as low as two percent and the number that required ICU level care like what's happening for a lot of adults was even less than that so definitely from those case reports it seems that children are less susceptible to serious illness from infections so far now the question is and that we don't have the information on is how much our kids actually have a milder symptoms may be something that looks more like a a common cold that goes away in a couple of days even though that's that's milder and illness you're experiencing they still could be propagating a lot of infection to their family members and other people in their community and that's that's the central concern right now I think as we get more testing online online especially in the U. S. I we're gonna start understanding of a lot better what exactly the nature of that situation and that dynamic actually gets but certainly it's been reduced reassuring and positive see the kids have been less susceptible to serious illness but that still should give us pause because as you know from a lot of other illnesses infections children children can be the main spreaders of those illnesses in a community feeling very briefly are you from your reporting hearing a lot of parents is voluntarily keeping their children home I have not heard that yet and the closure that we have seen have been pretty isolated a handful of schools in Washington and Oregon and some private schools in California and also some in New York so we really haven't seen a lot of that yet but it's still early so we don't really know thank you very much Keelan Belcher is a national education reporter for Chalkbeat and Ronnie Dylan is a physician a faculty member in global health equity at Brigham and women's hospital thank you both for joining us thank you for thank you so much and we're keeping our focus on how the corona viruses affecting schools tell us how school closures are affecting you.

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