Stop American children becoming expendable. Await a vaccine.
“Education is essential. So too is protecting the safety and health of children and their families,” say the women leading a global woman’s civil society group.
In case you arrived at this article searching for what to do if your child has COVID-19 symptoms, go here now.
The only way ahead is without politics. Instead, school planning needs a commitment to the safety of children and their families. Not one life can be risked.
“Currently there are three countries in the Americas that have lost control of the COVID-19 disease and the virus known as SARS-CoV-2,” says computer scientist Fred Harris who prepares a global report five times daily on the status of the COVID-19 Pandemic in 232 countries and 67 ships.
“These nations pose a grave risk to the world. The worst is the United States followed by Brazil and Mexico. They should not endanger children and their families because in the midst of a communicable disease storm that is out of control, scientists have no idea what will happen to the children if exposed to high viral loads. The answers right now are guesswork, and horrifying,” says Harris and his team.
“There is a consensus, says Harris, “that a few more months awaiting a vaccine may teach educators in these countries how to better conduct online classes. There may be other pandemics on their way, but we don’t know what emergencies are on the horizon. Children adapt well to any form of learning with the right planning and encouragement and leaders in this field are needed,” he added.
Among the children’s health care institutions around the world like UNICEF and the World Health Organization plus the best children’s hospitals and their experts, there is a consensus that areas where community spread of the disease has been checked should be able to find ways to provide physical distancing and environmental control to prevent the spread of the disease in closed class spaces and return to physical class structured schooling for K-12 classes.
Class physical size and structuring plus ventilation, heating and air conditioning systems will all need to be reinvented in due course. This will not be a simple undertaking.
What do the world’s experts say? “Do what is safe, minimums are OK for now but replan the future.”
- Here are the USA CDC recommendations.
- IFRC, UNICEF and WHO issue guidance to protect children and support safe school operations
- And what FPMag sources suggest is an essential guide comes from the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children. COVID19-Recommendations-for-School-Reopening-SickKids
This document is worth reading. It summarizes the SickKids Advisory Network recommendations for school reopening based on the available evidence as well as expert opinion, organized into these categories:
1. Screening to prevent symptomatic individuals from entering the school
2. Hand hygiene
3. Non-medical and medical face masks for children
4. Physical distancing
6. Environmental cleaning
8. Mitigation of risk for students at higher risk for severe disease
9. Special Considerations for children and youth with medical and/or behavioural complexities
10. Mental health awareness and support for children
11. Protection of staff and at-risk persons or families
12. Communicating about COVID-19 to children, youth and parents/caregivers, and…
13. Screening to prevent symptomatic individuals from entering the school.
According to the SickKids Family Advisory Network, “In order to prevent the spread of infection, students, teachers and other employees who have signs/symptoms of COVID-19 (according to Ministry of Health and local Public Health guidance) should stay home and decisions about testing and return to school should be guided by Ministry of Health in consultation with local Public Health protocols.
“In addition, return to school decisions for those who have had an exposure to SARS-CoV-2 should be in accordance with local Public Health recommendations.”
The United States has become a global threat with a runaway Deadly Respiratory Disease Epidemic that is completely out of control putting the entire world at risk. Exacerbating this emergency with overly aggressive school openings for political electioneering purposes during out-of-control community COVID-19 spread should not be an option.
There is a consensus that while it is important to get children back to school, extending their summer vacation may be needed while community spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues like wildfire.
The United States President has indicated that he will cause a vaccine to be produced very soon. That would be worth waiting for if it is true. If it is not true, back to school choices could still include waiting for a vaccine in areas where community spread is still an issue. The United States is more than able to develop very good online education using 5G technology. (If it cannot achieve that, perhaps the US government could ask China for some help… maybe send Meng Wanzhou home to broker a deal with Huawei.)
A precis of recent media accounts of the situation in the United States might read like this:
“Because the US President has politicized School Openings; and because the US President is guilty of snatching babies from mothers’ arms at the Mexican border leading to the eventual rape, murder, and death by unknown causes of many children, the son of a sociopath (according to Dr. Mary Trump) can’t be trusted.”
Donald Trump is abusing the Office of the President, manipulating the people of America in an effort to cling to power.
Trump apparently suspects that he will be criminally indicted and eventually sent to prison after his term in office expires. Technically, if one is to believe what is between the lines in Robert Mueller‘s testimony, Trump should be in prison now but the US judicial system believes the US President has immunity from criminal prosecution while in office. Trump outright says, he can do anything.
If the kids go back to school more men and women can go back to their jobs and restart the US economy driving up employment numbers, hotel business and the financial markets. Trump feels he needs this to win reelection on 3 November 2020.
Most epidemiologists don’t see anything like what Trump believes is “Normal” in the future.
“You know that somebody is looking for a better jobs report,” said National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García, who called Trump an “idiot” in a Wednesday session with reporters.
Another Straw Poll Survey of ordinary women.
FPMag has queried a number of families in the United States, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Germany and the Philippines.
There is no consensus on the straight question, “Do you think it is too early to send the children back to school?” The split is 50/50 on yes/no but the ‘yes’ comes back as a qualified “yes”.
The caveat is: 3.’Schools must configure for physical distancing, mask wearing and staff must be trained in infectious disease prevention and work in reduced class sizes, shortened school days, and provide extra soap-and-water handwashing. Hand Sanitizer hygiene stations must be accessible at all entry and exit points.
But when asked, ‘Notwithstanding your answers thus far, if you were to learn that an effective vaccine would be available, in January 2021, would you accept school restarting in the spring term of 2021.
The answer is 100%, “yes, wait for the vaccine if it is to be available early 2021”.
“I can understand mothers feeling this way,” says Karinna Angeles, a senior nurse in the Philippines with The Nurses Without Borders.
“Our President Duterte in my home country has ordered that children must stay at home. Children and seniors are not included in the special permissions for going shopping and things like that. And school will not start for the children until there is a vaccine,” she says.
In Canada, most of the infections of COVID-19 are of the American strain and come from the United States.
The Canadian Prime Minister has executed some strident policies and the provincial governments have added their own.
Initially the infection rates in Canada went out of control because of the particularly communicable strain from the United States which hit Quebec Province hard. This strain may have had its origin in Europe but has significantly mutated to spread more easily hitting at least New York and New Jersey very hard.
That’s a somewhat simplistic explanation. There are over 3000 strains. But what is important is that at the time of publication, the virus is under control in Canada, as best as that can be.
Interestingly, both Canada and and border neighbour New York have done a good job suppressing the virus. They had to do that because it was more than a handful of trouble at the outset so the learning curve was slammed into shape with something like a sledge hammer impact.
The Surveyed Moms agreed that “Governments must put Families First when it comes to children”.
“In Ontario province of Canada, the government has set an extraordinarily good example,” says Katie Alsop of the RINJ Foundation, a global civil society women’s group. Ms. Alsop participated in the survey of mothers this article will share.
Feminine-Perspective: The best that we could find.
Ontario’s Premier and his Education Minister are saying, “The return to school in the fall of 2020-21 will be voluntary and based on parent choice. For parents who choose not to send their child back to school, school boards should be prepared to offer remote education. This requirement will be in place for as long as public health circumstances require adapted delivery of education.”
In the United States the US President has been threatening to remove all funding for schools if governors do not reopen schools immediately.
Well. This is urgent. All vaccinations must be up to date.
“Children are not suffering too badly at home but they do need to get back to school when it is safe to do so. That means that all vaccinations must be up to date,” says the Filipino nurse, Karinna.
“Where I work we see many kids in big trouble with COVID-19, especially the younger ones,” adds the seasoned nurse.
“If some kids will lose a year, so be it. I hug my youngest siblings and tear-up thinking of them getting sick. When children get sick with COVID-19 it is sudden and death can come quickly in a small few cases. Contact tracing for kids is not easy either. Nothing about risking children becoming ill is acceptable even if the risk is small. Ordinarily children are carriers of so much illness from school but we know nothing about the novel coronavirus. Waiting for a vaccine this year is OK.”
“Frankly, I think like our President Duterte. The promise of a good vaccine has been heard and it is worth waiting for especially where comorbid risks of polio, measles, mumps, and rubella are also issues. There are a lot of vaccinations to be caught up…”
Edited Classroom Items that Moms are suggesting.
- Alcohol prep wipes or appropriate cleaning products for high-touch surfaces.
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 70% alcohol.
- Disposable gloves (do not re-use) for use by caregivers and teachers.
- Disposable paper towels.
- Eye protection (face shield or goggles) for use by caregiver in case of a child becoming acutely ill.
- Hand soap.
- Hard-surface disinfectant.
- Medical masks N95, for children becoming ill and the caregivers.
- One-step cleaner/disinfectant.
- Running clean potable water.
- Waste containers with plastic liners.
Some aspects the Ontario Canada education system is considering.
- maintaining a limit of 15 or fewer students in a classroom will require alternate day or week delivery to a segment of the class at one time
- students not in class for a day or days would need to be assigned curriculum linked work; where possible, students not in class could participate in synchronous learning with their classmates for a period of the school day
- teachers would need to prepare lesson plans that could be delivered through alternate day or week timetables, where part of a student’s timetable would be in school learning and part would be remote learning
- boards would need to consider providing students with a high level of special education needs, for whom remote learning may be challenging, the option of attending school every day
- a range of timetabling models could be developed to support local circumstances
- the need to limit rotating teachers would require adaptation to the delivery of subjects such as French or Anglais, art, music, and physical education
- students and teachers would be encouraged to remain in their classroom and to move as a cohort to entrances, exits, or other spaces within the school
- teachers would be encouraged to establish virtual staff rooms and not congregate before arriving in, or returning to their classrooms
- where a large class size would not permit alternate day delivery even with cohorts of 15, boards would be encouraged to form additional classes led by specialist or untimetabled teachers.