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Coronavirus Europe: Schools prepare for winter with open windows

With temperatures in Germany frequently dropping to freezing, children in the city of Bochum are bracing for a crisp learning environment as officials advise teachers to open the windows for fresh air every 20 minutes. Children have been told to bring blankets and wrap up.

Critics have called the advice a threat to the health of students, with Finn Wandhoff, chairman of the Student Union of Germany, accusing the government of failing the education system by not opting for online learning.

In Scotland, where First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says keeping schools open is a priority, Edinburgh’s chief education officer, Andy Gray, wrote a letter to parents urging them to ensure that their children wear extra layers of clothing when they return to school on Oct. 26 after a midterm break, local media reported.

In guidance issued in August, the Scottish government said: “The opening of doors and windows, where it is safe to do so, should be encouraged to increase natural ventilation and also to reduce contact with door handles.”

British health expert Susan Michie pointed out that many schools have windows that do not open and, therefore, need government funding to boost ventilation.

“I think also pupils will have to get used to — and staff — coming in wearing more clothes,” Michie said.

Britain remains the worst-hit country in Europe, with almost 43,000 lives lost to the coronavirus.

Pablo del Pozo, a music teacher in Spain’s southern Cádiz province, told El Pais newspaper that students were being forced to sit by wet window sills during lessons, leading to complaints.

“We are being told that it’s better for a child to catch pneumonia than covid-19,” he said.

Although some schools struggle with the advice that the cold air needs to be brought in, schools in Denmark and other Nordic education systems are taking lessons — and young students — outside.

More than half of about 200 Norwegian schools surveyed in a poll by researchers Ulrich Dettweiler and Gabriele Lauterbach last month said they were holding more classes outdoors — a move some already had planned on that was further propelled by the pandemic.

At Samso Frie Skole, a private school on the Danish island of Samso, young children bike or walk to a nearby forest, where they sit on logs to study and shelter in farmhouses from bad weather.

Being outdoors, staff members say, has had positive effects on many of the students, who use stones to work out during physical-education classes and hunch over crawling insects during biodiversity lessons.

But in the United States, the debate isn’t just about the weather.

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls to open windows and doors for fresh air to flow through classrooms, teachers say they must tread a fine line between protecting students from the global health crisis and from the threat of a school shooting.

“Do I keep my classroom door open to improve air circulation or close it to protect my students from an active shooter?

State and city leaders blame social gatherings, not businesses or schools, for coronavirus uptick in New London

Connecticut and local officials said Monday that the recent uptick in coronavirus cases in New London can be traced back to a series of social gatherings and other small social interactions — not to local school or business reopenings, or to the nearby casinos.

“We’re being told by the contact tracers that it’s not coming from any institutional or business setting, it’s coming predominantly from social spread … where people are letting their guard down,” said New London Mayor Michael Passero.

He pointed to situations — such as small family gatherings that are well within the state limits on gathering size — where people may feel relaxed enough that they remove their masks or sit nearby one another. But COVID-19 can still spread, even among a small group of people and even from people who aren’t displaying any symptoms.

“The institutional environments — nursing homes, schools, even the casino — they have these strict protocols in place, people are less likely to let their guard down,” Passero said. “So where it’s spreading now is where people are more likely to be relaxed and let their guard down.”

The state issued a COVID-19 alert for New London on Thursday, after a steep increase in cases in the city. New London and the surrounding areas saw relatively few cases in the spring, and by Sept. 25 New London had recorded a total of 229 confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in March. But from Sept. 25 to Oct. 9, New London’s cases jumped up to 368 — an increase of 139 in just two weeks.

The reported cause of the New London uptick align with comments made by Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, during a visit to UConn’s Hartford campus last week.

“This is really a message to everyone in Connecticut: the kind of spread that we’re seeing now is very different from the spread we experienced in March and April,” Birx said.

At the Monday afternoon press briefing in New London, Gov. Ned Lamont pointed back to Birx’s comments.

It’s “informal social events, that’s where we’ve got to the track and trace, that’s where we need families to be particularly careful,” Lamont said.

Dr. Deidre Gifford, the interim commissioner of the state Department of Public Health, listed off a couple specific spreading events that have been identified by contact tracers — including carpooling, lunch breaks and family gatherings that brought together multiple households. (It’s unclear if she was referencing spreading events across the entire state or specifically in New London.)

The state’s response to the spread is “nothing new,” Gifford said. “But it’s just … the vigilance. We keep reminding ourselves: mask on, over the nose and mouth, if you’re with anybody that’s not part of your household.”

Also at Monday’s briefing, Lamont said that he expects to release an executive order “within the next couple of days” that will allow municipalities with rising cases of COVID-19, including New London, to remain

Gallup: 72% of U.S. parents fear COVID-19 danger at schools, daycare

Oct. 9 (UPI) — Nearly three-quarters of parents in the United States say they’re “somewhat” or “very” concerned about their children picking up COVID-19 at school or daycare centers, a Gallup survey shows.

According to the poll, part of the Franklin Templeton-Gallup Economics of Recovery Study, 45% of U.S. parents say they’re “very worried” and 27% are “somewhat” concerned. Thirteen percent said they are “not too worried” and 9% said they’re “not at all worried.”

More than half said school cleanliness and sanitation had a major impact on their feeling, and 47% cited requirements or lack of requirements for daily health screenings for students and teachers as a major influencing factor in how they feel about sending children to schools full time. Another 44% said class size was a “major” concern.

“Most parents who have one or more children enrolled in school would prefer that their child’s school have some level of in-person learning, either full time or part time, with some distance learning,” Gallup wrote.

“However, about a third of parents would prefer that their child’s school offer full-time remote learning, and that rate increases among those who are very worried their child will contract the virus.”

“Full economic recovery will remain out of reach until schools can safely instruct students in person, as parents have to be able to participate fully in the economy — as consumers and as employees,” it added.

Many schools nationwide have reopened for the fall term in some form, but some parents and teachers have expressed concern about returning with rises in coronavirus cases.

Gallup said it polled more than 5,000 U.S. adults last month for the survey.

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Alabama schools soon required to disclose COVID-19 numbers online

All school districts in Alabama will soon share information online about the number of positive cases of COVID-19 among students, staff and faculty members, according to Alabama Superintendent Eric Mackey.

The new dashboard is important for two reasons, Mackey said: “So people take it seriously, and so they don’t overreact.”

“We want to be fully transparent so that people know that there are cases in the community,” Mackey said. Knowing the level of spread, he added, helps people to continue to do the things needed to mitigate that spread.

The dashboard, in the works since late August, will be published on the Alabama Department of Public Health website and will include the number of positive COVID-19 cases in each school system, but will not be broken down by school.

Sharing the information publicly can also squelch rumors, too. “Sometimes these rumors get out that there are 100 people positive with it in the school,” Mackey said, “and there are actually three.”

Some school districts are already providing that information to parents in a dashboard format, through social media or directly to parents and community members through other channels.

Mackey said ADPH has had some technical difficulty getting the dashboard online and that the state department of education is now helping in that effort. He could not say when it will be online.

On Monday, Alabama’s chief medical officer Dr. Scott Harris told he is “pleasantly surprised” that schools have not been seen to be the source of major coronavirus outbreaks. “I give the schools that credit that they’re doing everything they can to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.”

“We’re very happy with the way things have turned out in school,” Mackey said. In a sampling of school districts statewide, he said, fewer than 1% of students and faculty have tested positive for COVID-19.

“In most cases, when we do go back and do the contact tracing,” Mackey said, “we find that patient zero, they got it from outside the school.”

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San Diego schools remove Trump letter from food boxes due to mask statements

Volunteers stand with boxes of produce at a drive-up produce giveaway | AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Volunteers stand with boxes of produce at a drive-up produce giveaway | AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The San Diego Unified School District is removing letters from President Donald Trump that his administration placed inside food boxes as part of a federal coronavirus relief program for families in need.

Superintendent Cindy Marten, who oversees one of the nation’s largest school districts, told POLITICO on Tuesday that she has directed her food and nutrition services department to remove all letters from food boxes that have not already been distributed “in order to protect local families from being misled on how to protect themselves from becoming infected.”


The USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program redirects meat, dairy and produce to low-income families instead of the restaurants and other food-service businesses that normally receive them. The Trump administration has been criticized for mandating that a letter from Trump taking credit for the program be included in the food boxes weeks before Election Day.

Critics have accused Trump of politicizing poverty and using the food relief program as a campaign tool.

The letter, on White House stationary, is signed by Trump and says, “As part of our response to coronavirus, I prioritized sending nutritious food from our farmers to families in need throughout America.”

Marten specifically took issue with the virus prevention advice in Trump’s letter, which advises people to “consider” wearing masks in public rather than telling them to do so. The letter landed right as Trump and various associates were diagnosed in the past few days with the disease.

“Science is clear: wearing masks works to prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” Marten said in a statement Tuesday. “Wearing masks is required in California and on every San Diego Unified school campus. It is not optional, as the president wrote in his letter.”

Marten also cites the letter’s focus on people over 80 years old, pointing out that more than 60,000 school-age children in California have been diagnosed with the virus.

About 58 percent of San Diego Unified’s more than 122,000 students in the state’s second-largest district qualify for free and reduced price meals. Statewide, nearly 60 percent of California’s 6 million-plus K-12 students qualify.

San Diego Unified Trustee Sharon Whitehurst-Payne said the letter is especially egregious because it goes to low-income people of color, who have comprised an outsized share of Covid-19 cases in California.

“The COVID-19 virus has disproportionately impacted communities of color. Not only are we facing higher rates of infection and mortality from the coronavirus, we have also been the hardest hit in terms of unemployment and hunger. To take advantage of that suffering by distributing misleading medical information is appalling,” Whitehurst-Payne said.

Some schools have received the boxes via local food banks. Several California school districts said they are not participating in the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, including Los Angeles Unified, Fresno Unified and San Francisco Unified. The food box program is separate from the National School Lunch Program that districts rely

Central Regional Schools Report Positive Coronavirus Case

BERKELEY, NJ — An individual in the Central Regional School District tested positive for the coronavirus, officials reported Tuesday. It was not immediately clear which school the person attends or whether they’re a student or staff.

Cleaning and disinfecting all exposed areas has been completed, Superintendent Dr. Triantafillos Parlapanides wrote in a letter. They are working with public health officials to follow guidelines and ensure safety.

Anyone with questions can email Parlapanides at [email protected]

This has been Central Regional’s first reported coronavirus case of the school year. The district began the year with a hybrid schedule.

New Jersey Coronavirus Updates: Don’t miss local and statewide announcements about coronavirus precautions. Sign up for Patch alerts and daily newsletters.

The state has reported 43 coronavirus outbreaks in schools this year — only one in Ocean County. State officials didn’t clarify where the Ocean County school outbreak occurred.

“Outbreaks” indicate two or more laboratory-confirmed cases among students or staff within a 14-day period. They must be epidemiologically linked in the school setting, not share a household and not identify as close contacts of each other in another setting.

The Ocean County Health Department has reported 908 coronavirus cases and 102 COVID-19 deaths in Berkeley since the pandemic began.

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This article originally appeared on the Berkeley Patch

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Albany County says spike in COVID-19 cases likely tied to schools

ALBANY — Another county resident died from the coronavirus and the county is experiencing an increase in cases likely tied to the resumption of school, Albany County officials said Friday.

The victim, a man in his 70s with underlying health issues, is the county’s 135th known death from COVID-19. He was the 346th confirmed victim in the eight-county Capital Region.

At a morning briefing with reporters, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said the percentage of new cases tied to outbreaks at the University at Albany are dropping but county officials warned they were seeing a slight increase in cases potentially tied to cases that have emerged since local school districts opened their doors in September..

On Sept. 17, 84 percent of the county’s new daily diagnoses were tied to the college. The following week, it dropped to 61 percent and it stood at just over 13 percent on Thursday, he said.

The surge in local coronavirus cases in August and early September was tied to social gathering among college students, a factor in the state’s decision to implement caseload limits that could ultimately lead to an end to in-person classes at the university. SUNY Oneonta took that step after a large outbreak at the very beginning of the fall semester.

“The students had to learn, right?,” McCoy said of the UAlbany situation. “Students came, got a little freedom and some of them didn’t do the right thing so that number went up. Now, I think they’re getting it.”

Still, County Health Commissioner Elizabeth Whalen said the county is starting to see “a little bit” of an uptick in cases. There were 28 new cases of the virus overnight, bringing the county’s five-day average of new daily cases to 14.8. That number was 8.4 at the start of September.

The uptick is likely tied to the resumption of school. At least 15 school districts in the eight-county area have announced positive cases since in-person learning began again this fall. Seven of them have suspended in-person learning to allow for tracing, testing and cleaning.

Additionally, on Tuesday, the county warned that it had seen a 12.5 percent increase in positive cases among 10- to 19-year-olds over the past week, compared to a 5.1 percent increase in 20- to 29-year-olds — who fueled much of the county’s cases over the summer.

“There was a concern that there would be a second surge of COVID in the fall,” Whalen said. “I don’t know whether what we’re seeing is constituting a surge but it is constituting a caution. So it’s important for people to know that COVID is still out there, there is still transmission in Albany County and people are still at risk.”

Earlier: An Albany elementary’s pre-k moves online after COVID-19 diagnosis

Third student tests positive for COVID-19 in East Greenbush

Hadley-Luzerne schools go all-virtual after sixth COVID-19 case

Queensbury closes two schools amid coronavirus cases

A number of test sites throughout the region offer testing for children, McCoy said. The state Department

More COVID cases reported at schools

Local municipalities and school districts have continued to report new coronavirus cases this week.

Shenendehowa district sees its sixth case this week

The Shenendehowa school district said Thursday that two Orenda Elementary school students and a middle school staff member have tested positive for COVID-19 — marking the district’s fourth, fifth and sixth cases so far this week.

The Orenda cases are “directly related” to a Chango Elementary teacher who tested positive earlier this week and were they were contracted through outside activities, not by attending school, the district said in a notice posted to its website. Later in the evening, the district announced that a middle school staff member has also tested positive, though it did not identify to which of its three middle schools the person is connected.

The district says it’s working with the Saratoga County Public Health Department to assist with any follow-up needed through contact tracing.

Anyone identified as having prolonged, direct exposure to the students was to be contacted by the end of the day Thursday, the district said. Officials are urging area residents to add the number for the county health department — 518-885-2276 — to their contacts as it may otherwise come up as spam on some phones.

If you do not receive a call, then you have not been identified as having direct, prolonged contact with the person, the district said.

“We cannot emphasize enough that parents, students and staff members need to be just as vigilant following guidelines outside of school, this includes limiting group gatherings, practicing good hygiene, wearing masks and following social distance guidelines,” the district said in a notice posted to its website.

Two students from Shenedehowa’s High School East also tested positive for the virus this week. The first one was announced Sunday and the second on Tuesday. The district said the latter case was related to a previous case “stemming from a point of exposure in a recreational contact outside of school.”

The district said all students and staff are required to complete a daily health assessment, wear masks and socially distance while in school or on the bus. In addition, classrooms are cleaned regularly throughout the school day, and deep cleaned and sanitized at the end of each school day.

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility,” the district said. “We need to work together to keep everyone safe. Please do not send your child to school sick. If you suspect that you, your child, or someone in your family has been potentially exposed to COVID-19, please contact your personal medical provider.”

14 more people added to Albany County caseload

Albany County reported 14 new coronavirus cases Thursday.

County Executive Dan McCoy said that brings the total number of cases to 2,876 since the pandemic began. There are 93 active cases in the county and 2,783 people have recovered from the virus.

Of the new cases, eight are associated with the University at Albany, two are health care workers or live in congregate settings and three did

Danbury Public Schools To Reopen With Hybrid Model

DANBURY, CT — The city’s public schools will be reopening to a hybrid in-person learning model beginning Oct. 26 for all grades K-12. Preschool is expected to return the following week.

The announcement came in a letter to parents from Superintendent Sal Pascarella on Oct. 2.

A review of the data by the district’s senior administration and medical team showed continued community spread of COVID-19, but a trending down of the numbers since the outbreak’s peak beginning Aug. 21, according to Pascarella.

The public schools pivoted from their original reopening plan in August, after a significant increase in coronavirus cases prompted the State Department of Public Health to issue a COVID-19 advisory for the city. The infection rate in Danbury was 7 percent at the time of the advisory; it now hovers around 5 percent.

All busses will be operating according to all applicable federal, state, local guidelines, Pascarella said. Students are required to wear a mask for the duration of their ride to school, and must be wearing a mask to board the bus.

The district and medical team will continue to monitor the ongoing community spread of COVID-19 and will advise if adjustments to our learning model is necessary, Pascarella said in the letter.

This article originally appeared on the Danbury Patch

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Coronavirus Infection Rate Among Children Surges as Schools Reopen | Health News

The number of children infected with the coronavirus rose dramatically between April and September, according to new research by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, and by more than 14% in the last two weeks alone – a surge that coincides with schools reopening across the country.

“These rising numbers concern us greatly, as the children’s cases reflect the increasing virus spread in our communities,” Sally Goza, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said in a statement. “While children generally don’t get as sick with the coronavirus as adults, they are not immune and there is much to learn about how easily they can transmit it to others.”

Photos: Daily Life, Disrupted

TOPSHOT - A passenger in an outfit (R) poses for a picture as a security guard wearing a facemask as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus stands nearby on a last century-style boat, featuring a theatrical drama set between the 1920s and 1930s in Wuhan, in Chinas central Hubei province on September 27, 2020. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Drawing on data from state health departments, researchers analyzed trends over five months in reported COVID-19 cases and found that the number of children infected rose from 2.2% of all cumulative reported cases nationwide in April to 10% of all cases in September.

Notably, in the last eight weeks, children represented between 12% and 16% of newly reported cases each week, according to the study. In the two-week span of Sept. 10 to Sept. 24, more than 75,000 new child cases were reported – a 14% increase in child cases over two weeks.

As of Sept. 24, officials reported 624,890 cases of COVID-19 in children, which represents 10.5% of all cases.

The new figures come on the heels of reporting by the New York Times that found top White House officials pressured the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to play down the risk of sending children back to school and pushed public health experts there to use alternate data showing that the pandemic posed little danger to children.

Hospitalizations and serious infections among children are still rare, despite the surge in cases: As of Sept. 10, children represented 1.7% of total hospitalizations and 0.07% of total deaths. Just 0.01% of child cases resulted in death.

The study found substantial variation in case growth by region: In April, a preponderance of cases were in the Northeast. In June, cases surged in the South and West, followed by mid-July increases in the Midwest.

Researchers underscored that the data is limited because states differ in how they report it, and it is unknown how many children have been infected but not tested. In addition, they said, it’s unclear how much of the increase in cases among children is due to increased testing capacity – though CDC data from public and commercial labs shows the share of all tests administered to children, about 5% to 7%, has remained stable since late April.

“We will continue to closely monitor children’s cases, with hopes of seeing the upward trend turn around,” Goza said. “We encourage parents to call their pediatricians and get their children into the office for well visits and vaccinations, especially now that some schools are reopening and flu season has arrived.”

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