School Report Card: Mother-daughter teachers die of COVID-19 complications and schools face substitute shortages
A substitute teacher is working from home because of the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Olivier Douliery / AFP via Getty Images)
Students are returning to class amid the coronavirus pandemic, and to keep you updated on what's going on in U.S. schools - K-12 and colleges - Yahoo Life runs a weekly round-up of news, interviews, and updates - Development situation.
Schools struggling to find replacements even ask parents to enroll
There is a shortage of substitute teachers across the country. Some school districts are working hard to find people to temporarily run classrooms during the pandemic, and some states are getting creative to attract new subs. In anticipation of the staff shortage, the Connecticut Department of Education announced in July "flexible" staffing strategies that include representatives who no longer require a bachelor's degree. That same month, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds lowered the replacement teacher age to 20 and ruled that prospective alternates do not need to have a bachelor's degree. In October, Rhode Island launched a free replacement teacher training program. Applicants must have completed two years of college education and may include current college students.
The Cape Henlopen School District in Delaware, which follows a hybrid learning model, mailed a flyer to parents this week urging them to "be a replacement at the Cape!" The aviator said the Lewes, Del. District is looking for people with "some type of college experience" but added that a high school degree "is okay too". The district is also seeking representatives for a number of positions including paraducators, secretaries, nurses, caregivers, child nutritionists, and service workers. A district spokesman did not respond to Yahoo Life's request for comment.
Lincroft Elementary School in Middletown, New Jersey, which also uses a hybrid learning model, was completely isolated on Tuesday and Wednesday due to staffing issues. "Lincroft Elementary School is experiencing very large numbers of students and staff in quarantine and isolation. More students and staff will be quarantined today," wrote Mary Ellen Walker, superintendent of Middletown Township Public Schools, on Monday in one Letter to parents and staff. "As a result, we have reached a critical point in staffing and currently do not have the available staff to safely adhere to our hybrid plan at Lincroft Elementary School." Walker did not respond to Yahoo Life's request for comment.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, told Yahoo Life that she is concerned about the scaling back of replacement teacher qualifications in many areas. "This is a job that requires more credentials, not less," she says. “Substitutes are thrown into all sorts of situations. Watering down the criteria just so you have an adult in a classroom isn't education. That's ridiculous."
Weingarten urges the school districts to take a closer look at how they deal with representatives, including their pay. "We never paid replacements for the jewels they are, and this is a moment of time when they are really needed," she says. Substitutes, many of whom are retired or in risk categories due to severe cases of COVID-19, are aware that the high demand for their services right now often results in a teacher falling ill or a school group being quarantined must - and you don't feel safe, says Weingarten.
Weingarten emphasizes that districts should impose a "premium" on substitutes. "Make sure they feel safe and don't water down your credentials - that's the worst thing you can do," she says.
Mother-daughter teachers at the same Florida school died from COVID-19 complications
Two teachers at Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Florida have died as a result of COVID-19. Marilyn Foshee, a preschool teacher, and her daughter Julie Foshee-Knowell, preschool principal, died last week, according to a GoFundMe set up on behalf of the family.
"Julie and her mother were diagnosed with COVID in late November," says the GoFundMe page. “Yesterday her mother lost her fight and died. I've known Julie and her mother for a while. They love people and they love helping those in need. Now is our time to help Julie and her brother as they are unemployed and need help calming down their beloved mother. If god puts it in your heart you will help my sweet friend and her family. Thank you so much for helping my friend in bed at this point! "
The fundraising page was updated on December 20th and says, “I am sad to write this. This morning, December 20th, Julie passed away because of her fight against COVID. "
Christopher Carr, spokesman for the Trinity Christian Academy, told Yahoo Life, “The entire Trinity family is deeply saddened to have lost these two incredible women. Both Marilyn and Julie gave literally thousands of children their lives at Trinity. They tried every day to make kindergarten a wonderful adventure for every child they were entrusted to. "
Marilyn and Julie contracted COVID-19 during Thanksgiving hiatus, Carr says, and have not returned to campus. "The kindergarten was closed after an unrelated employee tested positive almost two weeks after the Thanksgiving break," says Carr.
The school is planning a memorial service for the two teachers after the students return from the Christmas break, Carr says.
Trinity Christian Academy requires students to wear face covers on campus. The school also encourages students and staff to work together to keep the campus safe. "The more we behave as a community with a common sense of health and wellbeing, the more we can offer each student and teacher an open and safe learning environment," the school wrote in a health and wellness update at the end of October. “We're not suggesting that everyone go into isolation. We are merely presenting a path forward that touches the areas where we can put all best practices and thoughtful behavior into action. We have done so well so far, let's move on. "
Florida reported 10,434 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. In Duval County, where Jacksonville is located, 577 new cases were reported on Monday, according to the Florida Department of Health.
New CDC Report: Attending Personal School or Childcare Was Not Linked to Positive COVID-19 Tests in Mississippi
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's weekly report on morbidity and mortality found that in Mississippi children under 18 years of age, attending personal school and childcare was not associated with an increased risk of developing COVID-19.
The report analyzed data from 633 children and adolescents who were tested for COVID-19 from September through November. The researchers found that 62 percent of those who tested positive for the virus attended personal school or childcare less than 14 days before the test, while 68 percent of those who tested negative met the same criteria.
However, researchers found that children who tested positive were more likely to attend events with people outside of their household, including weddings, parties, game dates, and funerals.
"Among participants who had close contact with someone with COVID-19, close contacts from [children with positive results] were more likely to be family members and less likely to be schoolmates or childcare classmates," than those who tested negative, the researchers concluded. "Attending personal school or childcare in the two weeks prior to the SARS-CoV-2 test was not associated with an increased likelihood of a positive SARS-CoV-2 test result," they added.
Dr. Richard Watkins, an infectious disease doctor and professor of medicine at Northeast Ohio Medical University, told Yahoo Life that the results were "not really" surprising. "We know that going to school in person is a low risk for children," he says. "However, the report is good because it is reassuring."
The report also found that children who tested positive for the virus were less likely to use masks consistently and to be around school staff doing the same. Specifically, the researchers found that parents of 64 percent of students who tested positive and 76 percent of those who tested negative reported that their child and all school staff wore masks.
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist and professor at Vanderbilt University's medical school, told Yahoo Life that adhering to COVID-19 prevention guidelines in schools and daycare is important. "This will vary from school system to school system depending on how intense COVID-19 is in the community and how careful the school system is in implementing all social distancing measures in schools," he says.
The Los Angeles Unified School District will not reopen campus at the beginning of the spring semester
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner said in an announcement Monday that the school campus will not reopen when the spring semester starts on Jan. 11. Beutner didn't say when the district expects the students to be back on campus, noting that the area nearby is in the middle of a coronavirus surge.
Los Angeles County, where the district is located, has had a record number of COVID-19 cases. The county's health ministry reported 11,271 new positive cases on Monday.
LAUSD isn't near reopening campus, says superintendent
Because of the coronavirus case numbers he described as "alarming", the students in the Los Angeles Unified School District are nowhere near returning to the classroom, the district's superintendent said on Monday.
Beutner, who did not respond to Yahoo Life's request for comment, shared on Facebook Tuesday data on the number of asymptomatic children in the district who tested positive for the virus in the week of December 14 - 5,606 - and posted states that the “spread of COVID-19 in the area is really alarming. “The ICU capacity in Southern California is also zero percent, according to the California Department of Health.
Intensive Care Unit Capacity by Region:
• Bay Area: 13.1%
• Greater Sacramento: 11.3%
• Northern California: 25.8%
• San Joaquin Valley: 0.7%
• Southern California: 0.0%
More information can be found at https://t.co/trkU09Qrni pic.twitter.com/87P0LSeN4x
- CA Public Health (@CAPublicHealth) December 17, 2020
Schaffner assumes that other schools will also decide not to reopen their campus for the spring semester. "It is decided from school to school and it can happen in some areas of the country where there is a lot of broadcasting," he says.
For the latest coronavirus news and updates, please visit https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those with compromised immune systems remain at the greatest risk. If you have any questions, please see the CDC and WHO resource guides.
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