Are we going to send the kids to school in the fall?

The answer is:  I don’t know but we have to decide by July 30th.  We have the option to send the kids to school or have them virtual school at home.  We don’t know what either will look like but it also sounds like we’re not going to know until the school knows how many kids they’re dealing with.

I do think we will be sending DC2 [update:  things have gotten worse in the South– now we’re not sure].  Zie is still in the age range where there’s not a lot of transmission and cases tend to be mild, with a few exceptions [update:  some new articles have come out suggesting transmission rates may be higher than previous articles suggested, but it is still unclear].  Hir pediatrician is very good and we trust him to be on top of things and the nearest city has a top rate children’s hospital should it come to that.  And zie has been a handful this summer.  I suspect we won’t be using after-care like we usually do and I’m not sure if we will be using the bus.

It’s harder to decide for DC1 [update:  we’ve pretty much decided DC1 will virtual school for at least the first grading period].  Zie is 13 and in high school.  Kids these ages are much more like adults in terms of transmission and effects.  Plus, DC1 doesn’t get sick very often (zie has perfect attendance awards almost every year of schooling), but when zie does get sick and it’s something zie didn’t contract back in daycare many years ago, zie gets really sick.  Hir tonsils and adenoids have also become less protective overtime (which is good because it means hir teeth straightened out and zie doesn’t need to have surgery to remove them, but also means they’re not as protective.)

Plus, DC1 is young for hir grade and could take a gap year and still be early for college.  I don’t want to have hir skip a year of math, but precalc is one of the less useful years, and we could in theory get it somewhere else and waive it somehow.  And… DC1 has been pretty good at entertaining hirself and doing schoolwork hirself without interaction.

The big thing is that no matter what we do with the kids, I am still going in to teach two days a week.  I will still have classes of college students, and these classes are going to be bigger than usual because the other people teaching the section are all teaching online, so suddenly my 8am section looks attractive.  Even though they’ve added another section so there are more teachers than usual.  So… I’m fairly sure I am going to get it even if I opt out of all of the conference travel I currently have planned.

If I get it, it is likely my family will too.  I suppose I could quarantine myself in the house and not see my family for the duration.  But even so it’s likely I will transmit it to my kids.  And if they get it from me, does it matter if they get it from school?  Should I be worried about them transmitting it to their classmates (again, less concerned about DC2)?  These are really hard questions.  I don’t have an answer yet.  I do promise that we will be very good about not sending kids to school with the slightest fever or drippy nose, but that doesn’t help with pre-symptomatic spreading.  Maybe we keep them home if/when I get sick?

The NYTimes recently posted a survey they did back in May in which they asked a bunch of epidemiologists if they planned to send their kids to school.  Most of the ones who had kids said that they would.  Most of the ones without kids said they would not recommend it.  Having had DC2 home for months, I empathize with the epidemiologists willing to take the risk.

Update:  This more recent article from NPR suggests numbers you should look at while making the decision.  The numbers for our county suggest that we should be keeping both kids home.

We’ve also gotten some more information about the way that Virtual learning will work at the high school.  It looks like DC1 will be able to take all but one of the classes zie has requested.  Ironically the class not offered online is computer programming.  We may see if we can work something out for that class since DH can easily teach any lesson if DC1 is allowed to just do the work.  The alternative would be to take AP Physics 1 which wouldn’t be so bad if zie wasn’t already taking AP US History (which is a lot of work) and Pre-AP Chemistry (hard and a lot of work).  Another alternative would be to take AP Statistics , but then zie doesn’t have a math class for senior year.

Right now (as of last Friday) I think there’s a 98% chance DC1 will be staying home at least for the first part of the year.  I give DC2 an even 50%… I want to check the numbers again before July 30th and I would like to know how dual language will be addressed.

We’re also allowed to switch from virtual to in-person at the end of a grading period, so that may be the right thing to do– see what happens in the first 6 weeks of school and then send them in.  There’s a non-negative possibility that all of school will be shut down by then.

Grumpeteers with school-age children:  How are you making the decision about sending your kids back to school in the fall?  Has your school district made that decision for you already?

56 Responses to “Are we going to send the kids to school in the fall?”

  1. wally Says:

    I read a suggestion somewhere to keep high school kids at home and then expand the elementary schools into those buildings – and double or triple (quadruple?) the number of teachers, thus reducing class size drastically and giving far more physical space for distancing. Some of the parents I know are planning for “pods” where they go in with a couple other trusted families and hire a teacher. I’d like that idea if there were a way to ensure that low income families had similar access to private teachers.

  2. Turia Says:

    First up, I am so sorry that you are being put in the position where you have to go to campus and teach in-person. My university (where my husband works as well) committed very early to being online for the entire fall and has also promised that if it is safe to resume in-person teaching in the winter, no one will be required to do so. This takes a lot of the pressure off for us (although obviously teaching a course online that I’m used to teaching in person is stressful, especially since I’m slated to teach courses that have a very high cheating opportunity with everything that is available online).

    We have no idea what school will look like. Our government told the boards to be ready for three scenarios, then said they expected all schools will start with a hybrid mode, and is now saying that their goal is all kids in school five days a week. But it’s meant to be up to the school boards and I don’t think we’re going to hear until sometime in August. We have the guaranteed right to opt for fully online teaching, but one of our kids is about to start kindy at age 4, so if she can’t go we wouldn’t even bother with it. The big one is going into 4th grade and he’s kept his teacher from last year which is HUGE for his anxiety. But I suspect if we opt out of the in-person model, whatever that proves to be, he’ll be moved into another cohort and will lose that stability. He ended up preferring being at home by the end, but he can’t do his work independently at all yet and he’s hard work to supervise for a variety of reasons.

    I was feeling pretty ok about them being able to go back since our case numbers continue to drop and our city’s case load is consistently hovering around the 1 per 100,000 mark but then that study from South Korea came out which indicated that kids as young as ten spread it like adults and now I’m consumed with anxiety again. I don’t think there are any good options really.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      1/100,000 is amazing!

      We were told at today’s faculty meeting that the university would close if things got “bad” and they would be monitoring. But there are no indicators right now that we’re in any situation other than bad!

  3. Anonymath Says:

    We live in one of the hot spot areas and have signed up DS for online this fall. He’s starting 1st grade and has done relatively well with online last spring. We’ve got room in our home office for a little desk for him and have bought him a fidget chair. We’re hoping that whichever parent is on duty will be able to get at least light office work done while monitoring him for school. I have all online classes, and DH is working from home until the university opens up more. We have the same option of switching DS back to in-person after the first grading period, but are not expecting to given that our state government is full of Trumpists denying that the virus even effects children. Given the lack of government support, I fully expect rates to continue to rise and the university to go fully online this fall eventually.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      That sounds lovely, the home office desk and fidget chair, not the Trumpists. I do have to wonder how high things have to rise for the university to go online. It’s been insane talking and listening to all these economists who don’t live in the South this past week at an online conference. The non-red state people are living in a completely different world where everything is safer and more humane.

  4. Leah Says:

    Our governor announces plans next week. Our school district is collecting preference surveys right now. They already pushed back the start of school a week (Sept 10 now). We are really torn. Our rising first grader misses her friends terribly. But I can definitely teach her, especially since I’m taking the year off.

    Still, it will be a challenge to distance learn with her, homeschool our preschooler, and have a newborn. We are working on decluttering and reorganizing so we can have space for homeschool, and I’m working on some skills this summer.

    We also are similar to you. My husband will be teaching hybrid online, so home some days and in the classroom some days. Class sizes will be small, but still. We have students who will come from all over the US (and maybe international students if they can get here).

    These are rough times.

  5. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Just got an update that dual language will be offered virtually. Whew.

  6. Michael Nitabach Says:

    Are you being forced by your university to teach in person thus semester?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      It’s too late to change, but I would have had to fill out an ADA form to teach virtually. Now, I have colleagues who I found out after the fact are teaching virtually whose only vulnerability is wanting to live in another state (no health issues, no family issues, a history of wanting to spend the semester skiing nowhere near family). Many faculty who could get automatic dispensations because of age are choosing not to and are teaching in person. It seems to break down exactly on the people who care about teaching and do service teaching in-person and those who only think about themselves teaching remotely. I am very concerned that some of my older colleagues will not last the semester, which is bad since we’ve already had two deaths this summer.

      At the ADA deadline, I was still needed in person to allow international students to stay in the US (given that my younger childless colleagues teaching the same required core course prefer to teach online from Colorado and California), so at least I felt a little virtuous after the revised schedule came out, but that has been lifted. So I don’t really see any benefit anymore, especially since what I do in class so well can’t be done when people can’t do small group work and I can’t walk around the class to check.

      My undersubscribed 8am in-person class is now oversubscribed and I have more students than can actually fit into the room while the extra section we added to allow social distancing in-person classes (also nobody signed up for Colorado-guy’s elective so he needed a different course) only has 5 students signed up.

      So… not particularly happy about any of this.

      • Michael Nitabach Says:

        Sounds like a fucken shitshow. Stay safe.

      • Lisa Says:

        This is one of the reasons I wish every university would have had the guts to admit that there’s really no way to resume classes in person this fall. A huge amount of effort is being expended by many dedicated and caring teachers across the country to figure out how to offer some hybrid model. But I really don’t see how it is going to work. My uni is “committed” to some sort of in person experience. Luckily, my college has done the math and given us instructions to plan for all online instruction. The lecture halls we routinely use for ~70 person classes will only fit ~15 when you account for 6 feet of space between students. It just doesn’t add up.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        And I still have more than 15 students signed up for those classes. Like, WTH? They expect me to figure out how to rotate those students to some viewing at home to be safe. Which is not what they’re expecting when they sign up for the two in-person sections. An all online section with fewer classmates would be a better experience!

    • bogart Says:

      Very sorry to hear about all this. Aiyiyiyiyi!

  7. Lisa Says:

    Our local school district seems incapable of making and sticking to any sort of plan. As far as I know, the current plan is to let elementary and junior high school students go in person two days a week and high school students only one. But they’re getting a lot of push back on all sides, and just voted to delay the start of school two weeks, as if that extra time will make a difference. As if they hadn’t already wasted the whole summer arguing over what to do. I’m getting pretty upset about it because I feel like having this time to plan for the fall is so important for parents and teachers alike. But we don’t know what to plan for.

    I am unlikely to send my kids to school this year unless things change significantly. My area is a medium hot area right now (not Texas or Arizona, but not New England either). I am lucky that I can teach all online this fall, and will be able to work mostly from home, so homeschooling is not out of the question. My husband is a family practice doctor, so he’s been working as usual through all of this. And he’s exposed to the virus daily, so we’re concerned that our family could be the unwitting vector that spreads the virus asymptomatically. Because of this, we’ve been extra careful to stay away from high risk friends and family. I could come up with specific metrics to define when I’d be comfortable sending the kids to school. But I’m feeling very risk adverse with this whole thing – although a small part of me thinks we should just get the virus and get it over with, I’ve read enough about it to know that this virus is unpredictable and nasty enough that I’d really rather not get it. And, of course, it’s possible that it might not be a one-and-done, and we certainly don’t want to get it more than once!

    I’m starting to stress out about things because of the lack of information from the school district. While my original plan had been to use the curriculum provided by the district for my kids at home this year, I’m starting to consider actual homeschooling, where I am in charge of the curriculum. Clearly that would be a TON more work for me, but as an educator, curricular development is in my wheelhouse. And then I would have some clarity and control over what is going on. I’m wondering if the only way to win this game is not to play. In the meantime, we’re setting up our home school space and it’s made the kids excited for school. Which apparently won’t start until September this year.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I’m not sure if it’s better for districts to stick to a plan or to change plans based on new data.

      That’s a great idea about setting up a home school space. Though my kids would probably fill one with towering clutter post-haste since that’s what’s happened with their desk areas in their rooms and what happens to the dining room table whenever we set them up there.

  8. bogart Says:

    [Insert disclaimer about my household being frighteningly privileged/well-situated (though high risk!) about here]

    We had the option of fully virtual (which seems to be planned as 3 hours of interactive + additional stuff), or hybrid = 2 days in school and 3 out, each week. We asked DC what he wanted to do and he chose fully virtual, which is what he said most of his friends are opting for. (When I asked him why, he said, “Because we don’t want to die.”)

    I will probably be fully WFH (assuming I still have a job at all) through the calendar year (at least) as the university where I work is trying to prioritize “high value” F2F interactions (= faculty, students) and I am not one of those. And DH is retired, though not particularly endowed with the skills/qualities that good home schooling would involve. But, present and willing to take DS out for golfing, disc golfing, etc. And we have made some use of hiring local college students and recent grads to do some Zoom interacting/teaching, which as a supplement to other learning has worked pretty well.

    I’m significantly bummed about DS not getting to interact with other kids F2F, as an only kid, though we are arranging some such contacts through golf and walks in the woods. He feels the same, but is more content about the option of virtual connection through Minecraft than I am (not that I am uniformly opposed to this, I’m not. It’s a quantity problem).

    … and as someone who *can* keep my kid home without undue hardship, I figure hopefully having one fewer body in the school is a small benefit (in terms of risk reduction) to the larger community, and to parents and kids who are not as privileged.

  9. xykademiqz Says:

    Our public schools will be online, as of last week (prior to that, they said hybrid model with two days a week in school, but this has since been abandoned). Middle Boy (entering 8th grade) actually prefers online as he likes the control he has over his time and the ability to choose when he works on something. In-class instruction is mostly a waste of time for him because he spends time for “group activities” farting around with his friends.

    Smurf (entering 4th grade) would love to go back, but it’s just not happening. He doesn’t seem too sad, though. I had promised him I’d get him perler beads (favorite activity from afterschool) if the school doesn’t go back in person, so when I shared school would be online, he immediately chirped, “So that means I get perler beads!” I think he will be OK.

    I am also teaching in person, 3x a week. Students registered for an early online class with an immunocompromised instructor; my in-person section was opened literally yesterday (I was moved there from a graduate course that was then given to a new faculty member and will be taught online). The department hoped students would flow into my late-afternoon in-person section, but our students have jam-packed schedules with lots of labs, and a desire to have a class in person is probably lower than a desire to not have the whole schedule crumble, so fewer than anticipated had transferred in the intervening one day.

  10. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    My kids are all going in person but schools will 100% close after no more than six weeks.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I would not be surprised if that were the case here either. DC1 would probably not be able to switch into programming at that point though. :(

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Just got a notice from my uni that we cannot switch to online teaching if pre-K to 12 closes (except as noted in FMLA/ADA) whatever that means. They’re really snippy about it too. Also if your kid is quarantined I guess you have to take them to class with you.

      • Jenny F. Scientist Says:

        The heartless and inadequate response from universities is not helping! Ours sent out an email that went “We are committed to supporting working parents. Talk to your supervisor about if you can work nights or if you have to quit your job!”

  11. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Another spike in daily cases today– there’s no way we will be out of the redzone before the end of the month when we have to decide. Maybe I should just fill out the forms to virtual school both kids. :/

    All the rich economists are saying to hire out of work college grad 22 year olds as tutors/childcare, but I cannot see a way to do that that would be virtual and better or in person and safe. Maybe DC2 will settle down. Maybe we can set up a regular minecraft time with hir friends. :/

  12. SP Says:

    Local schools are distance learning. We have restarted daycare. We are not in a red zone, and I’m watching those numbers. Honestly, work for me is going to be so crazy this month and next, that even if we end up pulling her from daycare in September, it has been 100% worth it so far. And she is having SO much fun there. Parents in my local parenting groups are panicking about school.

    I’m surprised you are teaching in person! (I read your response above about how this decision was made.) That is pretty ridiculous that it was decided by who was selfish enough to request to move to Colorado/California for the semester. Perhaps with cases spiking the uni will back off having in person teaching at all? How is the ventilation? I assume students wear masks. Do they have plexiglass barrier for you? Maybe no one will wake up for the 8 am class after all…

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      At first they said nobody would have to teach in person, then they said we’d have to teach in person unless we had an ADA or FMLA reason not to, but I guess they’re being really lax about it.

      I forgot to mention the guy also teaching the class online for our jerk related major (long story, but we don’t service them anymore) who doesn’t have kids, I don’t know about any health issues (he might have some, I don’t know), but is spending the semester teaching online from the country in Europe where he’s a citizen. Which… who can blame him?

      We got a FAQ from the uni today which walks back all the promises they made about fixing the ventilation system. Students must wear masks. And the FAQ notes that the uni is not responsible for plexiglass in all classrooms, only certain ones and that departments must provide their own for the other classrooms (but I’m pretty sure the dean of liberal arts is providing them for our part of campus even though the central campus administration isn’t).

      Man, this is really scooping my next RBOC in which I complain at great length about these problems.

      • Lisa Says:

        Are you sure it’s too late to apply for an exception? I think I’d do it out of principle.

  13. Alison Says:

    Our local schools just went virtual only except for some amorphous group of “identified students” who will be on campus. They object loudly if you call this closing school. Our cases are pretty steady at about 6/100,000 daily. I will be teaching in person twice a week until the university gives up and closes. The six year old refused to participate in online learning, and all the care options I had lined up followed the schools in closing. All in the last 2 days. I have absolutely no idea what I am going to do, besides punch the next person who says schools aren’t childcare.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We just had 40/100,000 new cases today and a note saying that the reason it looked like the numbers had been going down was test delays (I had been hoping it was the local mask mandate, no such luck) and they just got a whole bunch of positives that they will be adding into the reports over the next few days. Like, they don’t want to put them all in today, so they’ll be adding some to tomorrow’s and the next 6 day’s too even though they’re from over a week ago.

      At 6/100,000 DC2 would definitely be going to school in person. (sigh) But of course places with numbers that low got them from an abundance of caution so there’s no choice.

      • Alison Says:

        I think I’d actually feel better if our numbers were surging. If they close the schools at 6/100,000 then there pretty much isn’t a level where they will open them. But yes, we were a hotspot and now we’re not and that is a very good thing.

        And I hate hate hate all the games being played with data. Though our state portal just now is pretty good about giving you lots of ways to look at the data.

  14. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    We can keep JB home and figure it out so we’re opting for distance learning. I refuse to sign up for any more risk of catching it because frankly the second worst case scenario after death is yet another chronic illness situation and that is a solid negative. Equally importantly, we live in an area where we want to leave our in person seat open for someone else because a lot of parents need that more than we do. We can almost certainly work remotely through the end of the year without disruption. I don’t know about after that but we’re good for a much longer time than lots of parents here who don’t have that choice. So we want to get out of their way, as much as we want to not contribute to the demand for teachers to return to the classroom before it’s safer.

    And also I don’t feel confident in the data we currently have available on transmission between kids and kids and adults, and community transmission here is also bonkers, so all the pieces simply scream, to me, Stay Isolated!

    I’m sorry you have oversubscribed classes, is there any chance you might be able to stay distanced from each other? Are mask refusers as prevalent there as they are here?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Mask refusers are highly prevalent, though less so with the mandate. Still, lots of chin masks in enclosed places.

      They want us to randomly tell, say, two students that they can’t come to class each week (because that’s how much my class is currently oversubscribed). But it can’t be the same two students each week, it has to be random. That is NOT going to work. Nobody is going to remember that. The whole reason we opened a fifth section was so we wouldn’t have to do that! This part is a me being mad at my department problem though, not at the school. They should not have allowed my classes to become oversubscribed when there are seats open in other sections.

      • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

        That is a terrible excuse for a solution! *reject reject reject* They definitely should have planned better to begin with but the response to the problem they created is equally bad. I can’t fathom anyone who competently does scheduling, organizing, and dealing with logistics thinking that suggest makes any sense. Ugh at your department head.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        By the end of yesterday all the in person classes have had their class limits set to class size. There are still overloads but at least now if a student changes into an online section there won’t be space for another student to replace as an overload. Given that they’ve done this I think they will be mindful of how best to add the international students who can’t register yet to give them at least one in person class. I’ll still probably have overloads.

  15. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Ok, I am REALLY pissed off right now. I asked if I could have my class limit lowered to the classroom capacity (not kicking anybody out, mind you, just lowering the class limit ONE PERSON) and my department head said no, and that no we’re not being asked to randomly kick people out each week, just we’re being asked to randomly choose who gets to be in class each week. The new online section of this class (taught by might as well spend the semester in Colorado guy) has literally five people in it.

  16. First Gen American Says:

    Our rates are very low in our county. We are in level 3 and only have 400 cases total. Early on we were #9 in the US in per capita exposure due to the NYC people escaping here but it’s nice to see that the mask mandates are working.

    I plan to send the kids back unless cases jump and they don’t allow it. It was very hard on my younger extrovert. He had some very tough times emotionally despite having pretty good work habits from home. He also gained a bunch of weight and never has had a weight problem. The teenager was mailing it in and doing the minimum because everything was pass/ fail And why to do more than the minimum? It caused many battles. He is an introvert and was fine being home but he missed out on some amazing Hands on physics and Engineering labs. Making pasta bridges just isn’t the same as the very cool setups they had in the actual labs and Being able to design and build 3d printed original designs. All that stuff was shelved and it’s a shame because he loved that part of school. He used to actually look forward to lab day at school Which has never happened til this year. Plus, he needs to work on his social skills so another year of being home alone is not a good thing.

    That being said, there are still rumblings that they will only go back part time and things can change quickly but I hope it’ll go a little smoother as the district has had more time to prepare for online learning. We will see what happens. We don’t go back til the end of August so it’ll be a while yet

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      If you don’t have your own 3-d printer, we’ve used shapeways for printing out designs. (One year DC1 used Fusion 360 (now DH uses FreeCAD which is less user-friendly) to design Christmas presents and then had them printed by shapeways. Shapeways also has nicer materials than what DH has on his 3-d printer.)

      Hopefully things will stay good in your neck of the woods!

  17. CG Says:

    Our district just announced they’ll be starting school online. But there are three options and I sure hope we get better info about them in order to make the choice. One is online mix of synchronous/asynchronous but you want your kids to go back to school if they can. Another is online mix of synchronous/asynchronous but you don’t want your kids going back noway nohow so they’ll do that all term no matter what happens. The third is fully asynchronous. Both my older kids are going to have to some hybrid of these if we want to do the first option (which I think I will), since the oldest needs to take math at the high school this year (and I will not let him go to the high school as well as the middle school in person) and the middle needs to take online math this year because he has run out of math at the elementary school. I think it will probably work out okay for those two, but I fully expect the 2nd grader’s experience to be a disaster as she was completely uninterested in either synchronous or asynchronous online work this spring. It will be a full-time job to get her through a full school day like that (which is what they’re proposing).

    I can’t believe they are making you teach in person and that they made that decision in such a patently unfair way. Is there any way for you to make a change, perhaps in light of the situation getting worse, not better? Our chair let us choose what we wanted to do and I think almost all of us are doing it online. We don’t usually have any international students so that was never a consideration. The thing that is making me the maddest about the whole elementary school situation is that the university in the town where I live (which is not where I teach) is bringing students back to campus, yet many of their classes will be online. So they’re bringing thousands of college students to our town, where we will undoubtedly have a spike in disease, so they can learn online anyway. Whereas if they kept them away, we might have a realistic shot at getting elementary kids back to school. I don’t think history will be kind to the universities that put their faculty, students, and communities at risk, but that’s not much consolation now.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We just had a very heated faculty meeting (in which it was just me and Colorado guy saying things need to be safer), after which I got a bunch of emails from people thanking me for speaking up, but of course nobody who emailed spoke up, they just you know, emailed after. So I got told to take it offline and it sounds like I’m the selfish one. Though to be fair, several people teaching in person hadn’t checked their class sizes compared to the classroom sizes and didn’t realize they were affected.

      • CG Says:

        Grrr. I hope more people jump on that bandwagon once they realize it’s in their interest to do so.

      • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

        UGH it doesn’t help anyone to thank the one person speaking up OUTSIDE the meeting. I hope they start speaking up publicly now so people know it’s not just you and CO guy.

  18. becca Says:

    The last I read the household secondary attack rate is estimated at 5.2% for those under 20. Not sure “if I get it my family will get it” is remotely reasonable, based on the data. If you say that only as a worse-case-scenario emotional coping tool I get that though.

    My district also offers fully in person and fully online options (no hybrid, which would have been my ideal). Online is synchronous, and to me that would be awful… maybe we should just unschool at that point. Right now, my soon to be 6th grader will be going back in person. We don’t use the bus, which I’d be a bit squeamish about. But my daughter (3 years old) is already back at daycare.

    Our school district has a lot of plans, and spent $2 million on hand sanitizer, an extra nurse, and 17 full time substitute teachers. There is an administrator from our local hospital on the school board. It’s not a perfect plan, but after watching the school board meeting and hearing about what they’ve worked out so far, I think we’ve got competent people on top of things.

    Our local numbers are not good (16 per 100k), but they have been fairly steady-not-good. I believe opening up the schools will accelerate the spread and increase deaths, just not in kids. Based on anecdotes, we are not dealing with a strained healthcare system or horribly inadequate testing, both of which are much improved compared to Spring. I also expect us to have to shut down sometime in the middle of the semester. When that happens, I think the online experience will be more functional than last Spring, but I’m essentially writing this year off academically regardless.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Well… that’s good, though I bet the number is higher for people over 10 than those under.

      It would be helpful if these articles reported transmission for under 20s the same way they do overall odds instead of providing a chance for one and OR comparing young kids to older adults. It would also be nice if these studies didn’t all seem to be from the same province in China… and even nicer if the numbers didn’t keep getting bigger with consecutive studies…

      • becca Says:

        You’re completely right about people over 10 spreading more. I will note that one of the first things I did when I found out about the age difference was look for hormonal regulation of ACE2 expression (at least for mice, it turns on during puberty in the testis. So it may be that the tissue expression profile of pre-puberty and post-puberty are quite different). Of course, I can’t exclude behavior changes that *also* correspond with teenage years (much more prioritization of social time with peers) leading to increase spreading, but age 10 is definitely not a magic number.

        “If I get it, will my kids get it?” is an important question, but right now I’d settle for a firm-ish answer on “if I (as an essential worker in the 20-50 age bracket) get it, what are the odds I’ll kill my elderly parents living with us?”… on a societal level, that is the crucial part of the household contact studies.

        Here’s a study from Taiwan that isn’t broken down by age, but also isn’t terrifying…
        (The one that broke it down by age and found 5.2% was a Lancet study from Chinese data).

        Also, not to be snarky, but you should interrogate your resistance to reading and learning from the Chinese studies.

        The economic/political tension with China is, I believe, contributing substantially to the mismanagement of this pandemic.
        *I think anti-Asian racism played a meaningful role in the slow adaptation of mask in the US and elsewhere including advice from health officials (WHO and US CDC and Surgeon General).
        *Back when we were speaking of “flattening the curve” to convey the need for shutdown, I think we got the public good ideas about reducing the burden on hospitals. What the public health community did not do was make it clear was that lockdown, done strictly enough, could *crush* the curve. I think some of the reason was that in early March, we had no data *other* than the word of China, that we could get R down below 1. Nobody wanted to believe them, and so a lot of the public felt like what we got with Covid19 (slower spread with whack-a-mole throughout the country, but at least not all hospital systems overwhelmed simultaneously) was the best we could do. We know now, from European examples a-plenty, that we can crush the curve. But imagine if we’d taken China’s word and gotten the messaging right and had strict lockdown FAST?
        *There is a vaccine available today that China is using. How many lives will be lost because we’re waiting on Moderna’s mRNA vaccine? I trust Oxford/Astrazenca to get adenoviruses right before I trust CanSino to, but a good vaccine today will be better than a perfect vaccine never. The US military did the adenovirus-vaccine-for-troops things and nary a peep about ethics, but I haven’t seen one person react to China’s use of it in their military with anything less than wariness.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        My resistance isn’t that they are Chinese studies, but that they are all from the same province and all from one geographical location. I would feel the same way if they were all from the biggest city in Sweden. It’s called external validity. Different provinces in China have different outcomes– it is a very large country! Timing is really important too since there was different information available at different times! (One of my colleagues has an interesting paper mapping out how various travel holidays have affected things in China. There are differences by geography! And timing!)

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Also– do not appreciate being accused of racism when I specifically say I’m concerned about results being from one city in one country where the government and personal responses are very different than here. That’s ridiculous. And a jerk thing to do.

        Not to be snarky [narrator: she absolutely meant to be snarky], but you should interrogate your knee jerk response to someone questioning external validity.

  19. Debbie M Says:

    My sister has been researching online schools for her school-aged child. Hmm, let me check; she’s decided on Indiana Connections Academy (INCA). Distance learning might be available at her school, but if it’s like it was at the end of the 19-20 school year, it’s just not rigorous enough. At the time, the low-stress aspect was a god-send, but it’s not good for the long term.

    My sister is a stay-at-home mom but also has another younger child and her husband works all hours outside the house.

    • Debbie M Says:

      More from my sister:

      “So the deciding factor for [6th-grader] seems to pivot around band. And it seems that she can’t both do band and pre-algebra (the fancy math that is 2 grade levels ahead of her).

      “Also, I spoke with the principle. The legal stuff comes through the school corporation, and he’s got no idea, though as presented to him, it is cause for concern. He has no idea about how stable in-person school is actually going to be. The district’s virtual program is just core classes and no electives. And if she is enrolled in the virtual option, if we put her back into physical school, she can’t go back to the virtual option. And also, there is no info at this time how long that will even be offered.

      “We are extremely fortunate that my husband has a job that will continue to support us so I can continue to stay home with the kids while they do school stuffs. Because it looks like that’s going to be our thing.

      “Also, it will almost certainly be an on line public school, as full-on home school is super overwhelming to me.

      And for her younger child:

      “Also, I was going to put [4-year-old] into pre-school this year, in the before times, but now I am looking at online stuff for her too. Khan Academy might be the thing, but also ABCMouse. I don’t know yet.

  20. We decided on Virtual Schooling | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured) Says:

    […] In the end we decided not to send the kids to in-person school in the fall. […]

  21. Grumpy Rumblings 2020 year in Blogging | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured) Says:

    […] Are we going to send the kids to school in the fall? (Spoiler:  We didn’t) […]

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