Thursday, September 9, 2021

Good luck to all On the first day of school, It's as much about testing as vaccines -


Brace yourself, everyone. The city has decided, with almost everyone in attendance, that it only needs a fraction of the testing it did when it only had a fraction of the students. If you can't see what that spells, you may just be hard of reading.  ... NYC Educator. 

Scary story: Last night we hear about a healthy late-30, early 40-ish vaxed teacher who had some mild symptoms and got tested and came up pos for covid. Important point-- he went and got tested on his own, NOT BY DOE. If he went in today he would have subjected 60 colleagues. His wife, also DOE, is getting tested but still must go into work today. They are keeping their middle school kid home and actually intended to keep the kid home all along. Both of them have been very careful with masking etc.

Today I am going into the city for the first time in 6 weeks, taking the ferry. Why am I as nervous as I was a year ago before I was even vaxed? Tell me how it is not likely I'd get real sick. That's not enough for me. I don't want to get anywhere near this virus due to possibly long-term effects. You don't end up with reduced kidney function with a cold.

Another Hidden Covid Risk: Lingering Kidney Problems

https://www.nytimes.com › health › covid-kidney-damage
Sep 1, 2021 — Doctors are unsure why Covid can cause kidney damage. Kidneys might be especially sensitive to surges of inflammation or immune system ...
I'm 76 and in one month it will be 8 months since last vaxed and I will be first in line to get the booster.

It's now about testing, especially since there will be loads of unvaxed working in the same space.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Good morning everyone on back to school day, the most nervous day of the year for me for 35 years, but joyful for the past 19. After two months of total freedom, I was bummed but also ready to see colleagues and students and parents. Butterflies but excited butterflies.

Every single year began with some chaos in my various schools. But today I feel butterflies for all the people who have to go back in the midst of as much fear and chaos as I've every seen. Teachers in LA and Chicago, due to strong progressive unions, may feel safer than NYC school employees - due to the political ambitions of de Blasio, whose political ambitions will crash even further than they have when things fall apart.

And de Blasio will be aided by the UFT's Michael Mulgrew who, other than Unity loyalists, may be the most unpopular UFT leader in history. [Unsafe Schools at any speed --call on UFT and DOE to issue 10 foot poles to vaxed school employees].
 
Mulgrew and Randi actually met with the leader of the unvaxed group while ignoring the calls of the majority of UFT members calling for some remote options, not for them but for parents, whose fears that lead to them not sending their kids to school may be met by DOE investigations instead of support. Mulgrew is silent.
 
As Arthur points out, the reduced testing is a head scratcher.

[Sign a petition for more testing. (see below break for text.)]

If you don't follow Dr. Michael Osterholm's weekly podcasts, they are a must listen.

The Osterholm Update: COVID-19

He mocks the 3 foot distance rule and even the learning loss argument for forcing kids back to school. It's being driven by the it's the economy, stupid. Osterholm should be on TV more than Fauci -- and actually is appearing as the absolute realists. He also feels we are not doing enough testing.

Here is another must listen -- Michael Mina on Brian Lehrer advocates rapid testing as being as important as vaccines -- he even says we won't vax ourselves out of this pandemic but we can test our way out.

Brian Lehrer - Sept. 1

Michael Mina, MD, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, talks about how schools are preparing to test students, the science on boosters and who gets them, and more of the latest COVID-19 news.

https://www.wnyc.org/story/defense-home-rapid-test

Dr. Mina: Absolutely. COVID and quarantining is really an information problem. We quarantine a child and we say, "You can't go to school for 10 days because you've been exposed," because we don't know whether or not they've been infected, so we say, "Go home and quarantine." We actually have the tools now to know if they are infected and infectious and [unintelligible 00:03:35] a simple rapid test that a lot of people have now been finally hearing about.

Instead of quarantining the child or a whole classroom of children because somebody else turns up positive in the class, we can do what I call test to [unintelligible 00:03:53]. That's instead of having everyone quarantine, you just have them use a simple rapid test at home before school and you do that each day that they would otherwise be quarantining. You say, "You've been exposed potentially. We don't know if you're infected," so on Monday, use a rapid test in the morning, and if negative, go to school. Tuesday, use rapid test in the morning, and do that for the week. Most people don't actually turn positive who ended up being quarantine.

This is in a critical tool that we haven't really utilized very well at all in this pandemic to keep society running. This works for businesses, for schools. It's an information problem and we know how to solve that problem.

Brian: We always hear that the rapid tests aren't as accurate as the so-called PCR tests, the full nose swab. Are the rapid tests accurate enough for use like that and still protect the other kids in the class?

Dr. Mina: Absolutely. The rapid tests that have been authorized thus far in the United States are very accurate to answer the question, am I infectious? This is a very different question than have I been infected in the last few weeks? The question is, and why we quarantine people is we are worried about whether or not they are spreading the virus today. These rapid tests do exactly that, they detect infectiousness. I actually like to call them-- These are public health tools that I think should actually be called contagiousness indicators or something along those lines, because that's really what they excel at. They are very, very good to answer that question.

Brian: I see you have this Twitter thread going that's partly aimed at the Los Angeles public schools in particular. Is LA and outlier for some reason or typical of this issue?

Dr. Mina: This is happening all over the place. That was just one of the first big news reports to break. That was that day one, day two of school there were a huge number of quarantines and now we're seeing people and the teachers unions and such pushing for more extreme quarantines, that when one child becomes positive in a class, to quarantine the whole classroom. This is not the way to go. It wasn't last year and it still is not.

Kids have been out of school enough. The last thing we want to do in a pandemic is to have the societal ramifications be worse than the virus itself. We need to figure out and utilize the tools that we have available to us to ensure that children remain in school, to ensure that businesses keep running and we don't just keep using these brute force methods of closing things down and make major quarantines to solve a public health problem. Those solutions should be considered public health failures, and we have ways not to have to utilize those.

Petition text:

Petition for More COVID Testing in Schools
Dear Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Porter,

Everyone who works for NYCDOE must protect students’ safety. To keep our communities safer, we demand more COVID testing in New York City’s public schools.

Children aged thirteen to seventeen have the highest positivity rates in New York City. For children aged five to twelve, the positivity rate increased tenfold over the summer. In the second half of August, about one in twenty school-aged children has been testing positive. That rate translates to at least one COVID-positive student in every K-12 class in New York City.

Just when schools need more COVID testing, NYCDOE plans less. Last year, once every week, NYCDOE tested 20% of the students. This year, every OTHER week, NYCDOE will test 10%. Testing half as many kids, half as often, reduces safety. Breakthrough cases are common, but NYCDOE will not test vaccinated staff or students. NYCDOE now allows families to refuse in-school testing. We still do not have testing for 3K, pre-K, or kindergarten; citywide, that leaves about 14% of our students in classes that never get tested.

The following measures will keep our city safer:


Test 40% or more every week. Larger sample sizes detect spreading cases. More frequent testing detects cases while there’s still time to act.

Test the vaccinated. When the Delta variant breaks through, vaccinated people spread COVID. Everyone stays safer if vaccinated students participate.

Require participation. This year should be like last year: families should acknowledge that their children will be tested, but testing should not be optional.

Test early childhood. Random testing cannot monitor untested classrooms. Include 3K, 4K, and kindergarten.

Restore staff testing. Every day, principals and assistant principals enter nearly every classroom. Educational administrators travel school to school. None of us wants to pass COVID to the students we love. If administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals, school aides, custodial staff and kitchen workers all test alongside our students, we know our kids are safer.


You charged us with opening schools and keeping them open. More testing leads to more early quarantining, but less testing eventually results in more cases than our city can ignore. Another systemwide shutdown would undo everyone's goals for mental health, physical wellbeing, and academic learning.

We need early detection to maintain student health and public trust. Give us more testing, more often, for much more safety.

 

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