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How We Misunderstand COVID Testing

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COVID testing sites are currently seeing long lines. There is a troubling surge in cases during the past couple of weeks but the present rush to COVID testing is largely due to a huge misconception. COVID testing is not a pass to celebrate Thanksgiving indoors with family and friends. The rate at which the coronavirus multiplies and therefore becomes detectable needs to be considered. A negative COVID testing result tells us that an individual does not carry enough viral load to be detected only at the time of testing. "At the time of testing" is key to using correctly the result of a COVID test. During the past summer, some tourist destinations resorted to a COVID test as a requirement for travel, which probably added to the misconception that a negative COVID result was enough proof for safety. Georgetown University remained open during the current semester to a few students and researchers but these individuals had been required to be tested twice a week. Without a vaccine

Where Do COVID Transmissions Mostly Occur?

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According to CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, it does not make sense that schools are being closed while restaurants, gyms, bars and churches remain open. His argument is based on the observation that while the positivity COVID test rate in New York City is above 3 percent, the rate inside schools is below 0.2 percent. In order to avoid overwhelming hospitals, it is important to curb transmission. A total lockdown obviously comes with collateral damage on the economy. For this reason, it is imperative that the measures taken be the most effective and least damaging. Our measures need to be guided by science. And science can in fact answer the question, "Where do COVID transmissions mostly occur?". Citing a paper in Nature , Dr. Gupta lists the following as high risk COVID locations: restaurants, gyms, cafes, hotels and religious gatherings. Above copied from CNN Looking deeper into the details of the study, one sees that these locations also affect low-income households more than

Openings Should Be Guided By Health Metrics, What We Open Should Be Guided As Well

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Fairfax County Public Schools will pause its reopening plans. Expanding in-person earning will be delayed. The updated COVID dashboard of the county shows 400 new cases in the past 24 hours. Unfortunately, this simply portends an exponential growth in the next few weeks. It is true that some are now experiencing a fatigue with these non-pharmaceutical interventions. How long do we have to wait? Are these working, anyway? These interventions only work with majority compliance. And we are failing because we are not recognizing what it takes to open schools, what it takes to control this pandemic. I receive every morning an update from the New York Times. Here is a part of this morning's edition: Schools obviously involve indoor gatherings. Closing schools is therefore a non-pharmaceutical intervention to help control the spread of the coronavirus. If only the schools are closed while restaurants, bars, gyms and churches remain open, then we are basically fooling ourselves. The corona

As COVID Cases Continue to Surge, Early Childhood Education at Risk

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During the past few years, we have narrowed the learning gaps associated with family income. Parents in low-income households have increased their engagement in their children's learning. Parents are reading to their children more than ever. Visits to libraries, zoos and museums have become less lopsided as a function of family income. Unfortunately, COVID has changed this trend significantly. Not only are these visits not advisable during a pandemic, families, especially those who are socio-economic disadvantaged, are under significant stress during the past months.  Above copied from Bassok D, Finch JE, Lee R, Reardon SF, Waldfogel J. Socioeconomic Gaps in Early Childhood Experiences: 1998 to 2010. AERA Open. July 2016. doi: 10.1177/2332858416653924 A snapshot from Tulsa, Oklahoma shows that parents, children, and their teachers are feeling the impact of this pandemic on their financial, physical and mental health. Here is just one measure: Above copied from Tulsa SEED Study The

A New Day Has Arrived

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“It’s easier today to tell your kids that character matters.”                                                                     - Van Jones - Now, there is a lot of work that needs to be done. First, we need to address the pandemic, racial injustice, climate change, immigrant children who have lost their parents, relief to working families, and for education, equity. I am honored and humbled by the trust the American people have placed in me and in Vice President-elect Harris. In the face of unprecedented obstacles, a record number of Americans voted. Proving once again, that democracy beats deep in the heart of America. With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation. It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together. I’m going to speak to the nation tonight and I’d love for you to watch. You can watch my remarks by tuning in to this

Election 2020: A Lot of Lessons

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I am trying to imagine myself as one of my children. These are very interesting times. I heard one of my children two nights ago questioning the electoral college way of determining who wins in a presidential election. There is indeed a lot of talk out there especially in social media that suggests we abandon the electoral college since votes from various regions of the country do not seem to have the same weight. Then I told them that if the president is solely determined by the popular vote then a candidate may simply choose to cater to the interests of California, Texas, and the Northeast, because that is where most of the votes are. That made them think. Of course, candidates now focus only on a small number of "battleground" or "swing" states. I did not mention that. My children already have plenty to digest during these past few days and the weeks before election. There is, however, one lesson that is crystal clear to them. Every vote counts, but for a country

Vote For Public Education

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I am a parent, that's why I voted for my children. I am an educator, that's why I voted for equity. I am a scientist, that' why I voted for research-based evidence. I am a Catholic, that's why I voted for widows, orphans, poor and immigrants. I am an American, that's why I voted for America. I voted Biden. THE BIDEN PLAN FOR EDUCATORS, STUDENTS, AND OUR FUTURE As president, Joe Biden will provide educators the support and respect they need and deserve and invest in all children from birth, so that regardless of their zip code, parents’ income, race, or disability, they are prepared to succeed in tomorrow’s economy. He will: Support our educators by giving them the pay and dignity they deserve. Invest in resources for our schools so students grow into physically and emotionally healthy adults, and educators can focus on teaching. Ensure that no child’s future is determined by their zip code, parents’ income, race, or disability. Provide every middle and high school s