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Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:
Students in virtual classrooms report more symptoms of stress than students attending class in person.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention releases new guidelines for schools.
How physical education classes have changed during the pandemic.
To read more, click on the following links.
Research & Practice
Remote Students are More Stressed in the Classroom, Study Shows
NBC News: A new study from NBC News and Challenge Success, a nonprofit affiliated with the Stanford Graduate School of Education, is one of the first to shed light on the differences between students whose classes have been exclusively online and those who attend in person. The survey of over 10,000 students in 12 U.S. high schools found that students who’d spent time in the classroom reported lower rates of stress and worry than their online peers. While most students said they were more stressed about school in 2020 than they had been previously, the issue was more pronounced among remote students. Eighty-four percent of remote students reported exhaustion, headaches, insomnia, or other stress-related ailments, compared to 82% of students who were in the classroom on some days and 78% of full-time in-person students. See related article: Education Week “What Educators Should Know About Digital Self-Harm During Hybrid and Remote Learning.”
Low-Income Children Less Likely to Experience ‘Live’ Contact with Teachers, Analysis Finds
Education Week: Many students may be learning virtually, but children from lower-income families are less likely to have live contact with their teachers, according to a recent report. Twenty-one percent of children from families making less than $25,000 a year reported having had no “live contact” with a teacher in the past week, in-person, by phone, or virtually, compared with 11% of kids whose families make at least $200,000 a year. In fact, the greater the family income, the more likely it is that a child has had recent live contact with a teacher. For instance, 16% of students from households earning $50,000- $74,999 annually said they had no live contact with a teacher in the past week, compared to 14% of students whose families make $75,000 to $99,999.
Biden Trims Ambitions on School Reopening Pledge
The New York Times: President Biden appeared to give many educators and parents what they had been seeking for nearly a year when he pledged to reopen schools by his 100th day in office: a plan. But as the White House struggles to turn the president’s lofty pitch into reality, Biden aides are finding it rough going against new variants of the coronavirus, protests of teachers’ unions, and the fears and frustrations of students and parents. In the weeks since being elected, Mr. Biden has narrowed his calls for reopening all schools to just elementary and middle schools. And more recently, the White House has sought to temper even those expectations, setting a reopening benchmark of “the majority of schools” — or 51%.
New CDC Guidance: Vaccinate Teachers, But Don’t Wait to Open Schools
Chalkbeat: Highly anticipated new guidance from the CDC says schools don’t need to wait for staff to be vaccinated to reopen, adding that masks and other safety precautions are critical. Students should return full-time where spread is low or moderate; and with regular testing, the CDC says schools can open for some in-person instruction even when community spread is high. The CDC’s guidance stressed the importance of getting schools open wherever possible to limit the effects of the pandemic on students whose educations have been disrupted. The CDC also offers a high-profile boost to those pushing schools to quickly reopen or stay open. However, about 90% of the country qualifies as an area with high community spread and many schools do not have the resources for testing programs. See related article: The New York Times “The C.D.C. Has New School Guidelines. Here’s What You Need to Know.”
New Massachusetts Law Paves the Way for Police-Free Schools
The Appeal: In Massachusetts lawmakers recently struck down a requirement that all school districts in the state have at least one “school resource officer”—a moniker for school police officers. Now just two states, Florida and Maryland, have laws requiring police in schools, and advocates are pushing them to follow suit. Massachusetts had adopted the school police requirement in 2014 in response to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Connecticut. Since then, the number of police assigned to work in Massachusetts schools had steadily grown, as school shootings nationwide have continued. Advocates say next steps for them will involve ensuring that the transparency and reporting requirements of the 2020 reforms are honored, and they will continue to advocate for enhanced state funding of student mental health services. See related article: The New York Times “Protesters Urged Defunding the Police. Schools in Big Cities Are Doing It.”
Around the Nation
5 Virtual Learning Strategies to Support Student Health and Wellbeing
eSchool News: Virtual learning presents an entirely new set of challenges, and at the top of the list is checking on students’ mental and physical health. The pandemic has disrupted much more than students’ learning, it made it significantly more difficult for school staff to provide for students’ fundamental needs. To address these challenges, Concourse Village Elementary School in the Bronx uses several strategies, including: using surveys to check on basic needs like food access, using mindfulness strategies to help students manage stress and anxiety, establishing habits that prioritize physical health, gamifying virtual student engagement, and providing students with choices for how and when they engage in class.
Kids Are Shooting Hoops With Rolled Up Socks, but Pandemic Phys Ed is Not Cancelled
The Hechinger Report: The coronavirus pandemic and the resulting widespread shift to remote learning have brought major changes to physical education in the United States, at a time when experts say physical activity for children is more important than ever. Gone are the team sports played in wide-open fields behind the school. In their place are Turkey Ninja Warrior and water-bottle bowling, solitary pursuits conducted couch-side in spaces as small as a studio apartment. Rolled up socks and laundry baskets have replaced balls and nets, as schools seek everyday alternatives to stranded sports equipment. Many physical education instructors say their students seem to be having fun, at least the ones who opt to have their videos on.
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