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Charter School In Hoboken Goes Remote For Now Due To Coronavirus

HOBOKEN, NJ — Elysian Charter School, one of the city’s three charter schools, confirmed over the weekend that it’s going all-remote for now. Sources said that the decision was made after a student at the K-8 school tested positive for coronavirus.

Vijay Chaudhury, a spokesman for Mayor Ravi Bhalla, said over the weekend, “Elysian Charter School has made the decision to go remote given recent developments and in consultation with the Hoboken Health Department. We are confident their precautions will help keep our children safe.”

A representative for the school, located at the north end of town, declined to discuss the matter further or say how long they’ll be closed, but said that they had informed the school community. This story will be updated if more information is received, such as a reopening date.

Charter schools in New Jersey are considered public and do not charge tuition, but receive state funding distributed through the public Board of Education. Each charter school is considered its own school district, although they are subject to state regulations.

Elysian’s reopening plan and coronavirus safety protocol can be found on their website here.

Hoboken’s regular public school buildings remain open for parents who chose the on-site learning option. They also offer the option of full-time remote learning, as required by the state.

Hoboken Superintendent of Schools Christine Johnson said on Sunday that she didn’t have more information on Elysian, but that the Hoboken School District has a protocol to respond if a student within the Hoboken community, but attending another district, tests positive.

“We have a plan that we are following with fidelity,” she said. “The plan includes directives for when there is a positive case of one of our district students or staff members. When it comes to a positive case of a child from another school in town that is outside of our district, we follow the very clear guidelines set forth by the Health Department. They conduct the contact tracing and inform those families required to quarantine a child on the basis of those who have been in contact with the individual that has tested positive within 6 feet and for 10 or more minutes. That means that we do not quarantine classes of students that are not in direct contact. Principals will inform parents in the classroom of a student who is quarantining (out of precaution) and parents may certainly take measures if they so choose to do so, but it will not kick us into a closure unless there is a direct positive.”

She added, “We did have an individual in one of our [pre-K] cohorts at St. Francis that tested positive. That cohort will quarantine for 14 days. We checked the sibling list and there aren’t any siblings that attend our schools in the upper grades. The Department of Health was notified.”

She noted, “At this time, we are not aware of a K-12 student or staff member who have tested positive for covid 19.”

How kids

Chile scientists study potential coronavirus mutation in remote Patagonia

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Scientists in Chile are investigating a possible mutation of the novel coronavirus in southern Patagonia, a far-flung region near the tip of the South American continent that has seen an unusually contagious second wave of infections in recent weeks.

Dr. Marcelo Navarrete of the University of Magallanes told Reuters in an interview that researchers had detected “structural changes” in the spikes on the distinctive, crown-shaped virus. He said research is underway to better understand the potential mutation and its effects on humans.

“The only thing we know to date is that this coincides in time and space with a second wave that is quite intense in the region,” Navarrete said.

The Magallanes region of Chile is largely a remote, glacier-strewn wilderness dotted with small towns and the regional hub Punta Arenas, which has seen cases of COVID-19 spike in September and October following a first wave earlier this year.

Hospitals are nearing full occupancy in the hard-hit region. Chilean health ministry officials said they have begun evacuating sick residents from the region to the capital, Santiago.

Other studies outside Chile have also indicated that the coronavirus can evolve as it adapts to its human hosts.

A preliminary study that analyzed the virus’ structure following two waves of infection in the U.S. city of Houston found that a more contagious strain dominated recent samples.

Navarrete acknowledged similar mutations had been observed elsewhere, but he said the relative isolation and harsh climate of the famously cold and windy Magallanes region may have exaggerated its impacts.

“Some of these variables such as cold, wind, are associated with a higher rate of spread in the world,” Navarrete said.

Scientists say the mutations may make the virus more contagious but do not necessarily make it more deadly, nor do they necessarily inhibit the effectiveness of a potential vaccine.

(Reporting by Reuters TV, writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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This remote county has the highest COVID case rate in Calif.: Here’s why

Two more residents of Shasta County died from the coronavirus Wednesday, bringing the county total since the start of the pandemic to 24, health officials reported. In the last week, the county has reported 302 new cases.

These numbers may be surprising in this pocket of Northern California known for vast open spaces and endless forests, but COVID-19 outbreaks across the country have shown that the virus can spiral out of control anywhere.

The spike in Shasta County is being driven by spates of cases at an evangelical school and a nursing facility in Redding, the county’s largest city (pop. 91,000).


Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in Redding asked its entire 1,600-person student body to self-quarantine as the number of coronavirus cases among students and staff rose above 100 since classes started a month ago.

Off-campus housing has been a primary source of transmission, along with “social interactions outside of school hours.” The school does not have on-campus housing and encourages students on its website to “infiltrate the neighborhoods of Redding,” recommending 17 “revival regions in need of transformation.”

Windsor Redding Care Center has reported 17 COVID-19 deaths and more than 60 residents and health care workers have tested positive according to data from the state.

The outbreaks in these two locations are spilling into the greater community. The Record Searchlight reported Tuesday that the number of cases in county schools had reached 43, with these infections spread across 13 campuses.

The uptick in cases is impacting key metrics the state uses to determine a county’s color-coded tier status in the reopening plan that dictates which businesses and activities are allowed to reopen. Shasta’s positivity rate is now 6.9%, the highest in the state. For every 100,000 residents in the county, nearly 13 people are testing positive a day.

Shasta fell back from the orange tier to the more restrictive red tier Tuesday, placing restrictions on restaurants and requiring bars to close unless they are serving food. County officials said they expect Shasta to move into the most restrictive purple tier in coming weeks.

Going back to purple would force all dining to move outdoors and require church services, movie theaters and gyms to also only operate outside.

The state’s reopening plan sorts counties into four color-coded tiers — “purple” (widespread), “red” (substantial), “orange” (moderate) or “yellow” (minimal) — that measure the spread of COVID-19.

Counties are put in the purple tier if they are reporting more than seven cases per 100,000 residents and have a positivity rate above 8%. For a county to move into the red tier, it must report fewer than seven daily cases per 100,000 residents and a test positivity under 8% for 14 consecutive days. The orange tier requires fewer than 3.9 cases per 100,000 and a test positivity under 4.9% and the yellow less than 1 case per 100,000 and lower than 2% positivity.

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Dentist visits go remote during the covid-19 pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed many in-person activities into remote services delivered over the internet. The latest example is the dreaded visit to the dentist.

Dvora Brandstatter used to drive her son Elchanan half an hour to the orthodontist and back every month to make sure his braces were working properly. Now, from the comfort of her home in Bergenfield, New Jersey, she attaches a special scope to her smartphone camera, opens an app and inserts the contraption into the 11 year-old’s mouth. A video of the boy’s choppers is sent to his dentist who checks progress, diagnoses any issues and sometimes ends the appointment right there.

“As a parent having fewer appointments is a good thing,” Brandstatter said. “I haven’t seen a downside so far. It’s probably the way everything is moving anyway.”

The app and the scope were created last year by New Jersey-based startup Grin. After the pandemic hit, Chief Executive Officer and dentist Adam Schulhof said the company sped up development of the technology and partnered with manufacturer 3M Co. to quickly distribute it to as many orthodontists as possible. About 5,000 units have shipped out and roughly 1,000 patients have used the system so far, according to Grin.

Schulhof, who uses the system for his own practice, said the coronavirus has spurred huge demand for new procedures that help people reduce the close contact that typically happens when they visit the dentist. The CDC has warned that dental instruments create spray that can contain droplets of water, saliva, blood and other debris, and has advised the use of “teledentistry” as an alternative to in-office care.

When the Grin videos arrive at the dentist’s office, other software from the startup helps practitioners analyze the condition of the teeth and integrates the footage with existing patient management systems. The app also lets patients see what the dentist sees inside their mouth. Not for the faint of heart.

There are already new, internet-focused dental services that Grin is going up against. Companies such as SmileDirectClub Inc. mail invisible aligners and braces to consumers. SmileDirectClub shares have more than doubled since the middle of March. Schulfhof said Grin’s offering is aimed at fighting the challenge to conventional dentistry from such direct-to-consumer offerings. “We’re trying to disrupt the disrupters,” he added.

In the short-term, the technology will help orthodontists keep their businesses running while many patients avoid the dentist’s office completely, the CEO said. As smartphone capabilities improve and the software develops, Schulhof expects Grin’s scope to use artificial intelligence image analysis to become a more powerful diagnostic tool for dentists.

The CEO also sees the technology gaining traction in general dentistry where insurance companies may back its use. People’s teeth decay at different rates and more regular, remote checks, could be used to identify problems before they require more complicated and expensive treatment at in-person visits every six months, he said.

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Even Dentist Visits Go Remote During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Remote Dentist GIF

The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed many in-person activities into remote services delivered over the internet. The latest example is the dreaded visit to the dentist.  

Dvora Brandstatter used to drive her son Elchanan half an hour to the orthodontist and back every month to make sure his braces were working properly. Now, from the comfort of her home in Bergenfield, New Jersey, she attaches a special scope to her smartphone camera, opens an app and inserts the contraption into the 11 year-old’s mouth. A video of the boy’s choppers is sent to his dentist who checks progress, diagnoses any issues and sometimes ends the appointment right there. 

“As a parent having fewer appointments is a good thing,” Brandstatter said. “I haven’t seen a downside so far. It’s probably the way everything is moving anyway.”

The app and the scope were created last year by New Jersey-based startup Grin. After the pandemic hit, Chief Executive Officer and dentist Adam Schulhof said the company sped up development of the technology and partnered with manufacturer 3M Co. to quickly distribute it to as many orthodontists as possible. About 5,000 units have shipped out and roughly 1,000 patients have used the system so far, according to Grin.

Grin's scope device

Grin’s scope device

Source: Grin

Schulhof, who uses the system for his own practice, said the coronavirus has spurred huge demand for new procedures that help people reduce the close contact that typically happens when they visit the dentist. The CDC has warned that dental instruments create spray that can contain droplets of water, saliva, blood and other debris, and has advised the use of “teledentistry” as an alternative to in-office care. 

When the Grin videos arrive at the dentist’s office, other software from the startup helps practitioners analyze the condition of the teeth and integrates the footage with existing patient management systems. The app also lets patients see what the dentist sees inside their mouth. Not for the faint of heart.

Remote Dentist GIF

Photographer: Grin

There are already new, internet-focused dental services that Grin is going up against. Companies such as SmileDirectClub Inc. mail invisible aligners and braces to consumers. SmileDirectClub shares have more than doubled since the middle of March. Schulfhof said Grin’s offering is aimed at fighting the challenge to conventional dentistry from such direct-to-consumer offerings. “We’re trying to disrupt the disrupters,” he added.

In the short-term, the technology will help orthodontists keep their businesses running while many patients avoid the dentist’s office completely, the CEO said. As smartphone capabilities improve and the software develops, Schulhof expects Grin’s scope to use artificial intelligence image analysis to become a more powerful diagnostic tool for dentists.

The CEO also sees the technology gaining traction in general dentistry where insurance companies may back its use. People’s teeth decay at different rates and more regular, remote checks, could be used to identify problems before they require more complicated and expensive treatment at in-person visits every six months, he said.