News Digest

Click to read highlights and get link to full article

September News

The New York Times, September 1

Apple and Google are lowering the bar for states to adopt and for public to enroll in new tech which detects phones that come close to one another and can notify people who may have been exposed to coronavirus. If someone using the tech tests positive, they enter result into the system using a unique authentication code. An automatic notification then goes to other phones that had been in close contact. Health agencies will not get info on who used the code.

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August News

The Washington Post, Aug 28

Positive results in wastewater enabled school to quickly test 311 dorm residents and identify two asymptomatic students who were quickly quarantined.

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The Hill, Aug 30

From Florida to Texas to Iowa, teachers unions are suing at the state and local levels regarding reopening plans they see as unsafe and politically motivated; and suing for access to data needed to monitor virus spread within school communities. In New York, Massachusetts, California and Oregon, some parents are suing to force state officials to reopen physical schools.

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National Geographic, Aug 28

Cleaner than you might think! When the plane is airborne, about 40% of cabin air gets filtered through a HEPA system on most commercial aircraft, “blocking and capturing 99.97%  of airborne particles over 0.3 microns.” The remaining 60% air is piped in from outside the plane.
– choose an airline that enforces its own protective rules.
– an MIT study (not yet peer-reviewed) found that leaving the middle seat empty decreased a given passengers’ risk by a factor of 1.8.

Read Full Article


American will be the First Airline to use a Coating said to Kill Coronavirus for up to Seven Days

The Washington Post, Aug 25

The Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug 27

In this series of short articles, administrators, professors, grad students, and staff speculate about how the coronavirus will change the academic work force. 

The Washington Post

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Analysis – Two Metres or One: What is the Evidence for Physical Distancing in Covid-19?

Experts say distance alone will never solve the aerosol problem. New study says factors such as air circulation, ventilation, exposure time, crowd density, face masks and whether people are silent, speaking, shouting or singing, should be assessed to determine whether 6 feet is sufficient. Another key factor is the motion of the air.



ABC News, Aug 26

Previous CDC Guidance: “Because of the potential for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, it is important that contacts of individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection be quickly identified and tested.”

New CDC Guidance: “If you have been in close contact (within 6 feet) of a person with a COVID-19 infection for at least 15 minutes but do not have symptoms: You do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your health care provider or State or local public health officials recommend you take one.”

Medical and public health experts pushed back, saying this would reduce visibility on the virus right before flu season. Defenders said the change was to remove a “false sense of security” people may have after a negative test result.


CDC Attempts to Clarify Testing Guidelines
USA Today, Aug 27

While immediate questions were directed to Dept of HHS, CDC later tried to clarify the guidance, stating: “Everyone who needs a COVID-19 test, can get a test. Everyone who wants a test does not necessarily need a test; the key is to engage the needed public health community in the decision with the appropriate follow-up action.” States intending to increase testing include New York, Nevada and California which announced a new contract that will provide quick turn-around and lower cost per test.


The Washington Post, Aug 26

Experts say keeping campers and staff in separate cohorts, the entire time, was the key. If there was a case, camp could then quickly quarantine all contacts. Federal study shows measures taken included required testing before and after arrival; quarantine of cohorts; no visitors, maintained cohorts. Successful results at 4 Maine camps contrast with a Georgia camp where undetected asymptomatic infection is suspected as driver of virus spread.

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NetAssets, Aug 25

Certain private nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply for funding through FEMA’s Public Assistance program for reimbursement of emergency protective measures taken to respond to the COVID-19 emergency.

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The New York Times, Aug 24

Monday, schools had trouble gaining access to online learning platforms, including Zoom. Another platform, Canvas, reported that its system slowed down for about 75%of U.S. customers for about 30 mins. Problems likely resulted from heavy usage as students “returned” to school, online.

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The Wall Street Journal, Aug 24

NFL received a rash of false positives – 77 players on 11 teams – all stemming from an “isolated contamination” at a BioReference Laboratories facility in NJ.. All players were tested again, including original samples, and all came back negative. Most tests have a rate of false positives but such a high number was jarring and pointed to potential pitfalls of attempting to operate during pandemic.

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The New York Times, Aug 24

Researchers sequenced genes of the virus from both the man’s infections and found significant differences, suggesting he had been infected a second time by a strain that was circulating when he visited Europe. The second infection was completely asymptomatic, which experts called a textbook example of how immunity should work. Others emphasize that the immune response prevented disease (symptoms), but not reinfection, suggesting a vaccine might not provide lifelong immunity, in keeping with the behavior of other seasonal coronaviruses.

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The Gazette (Cedar Rapids), Aug 20

A lengthy account on social media from a University of Iowa student detailed filthy conditions in quarantine housing and lack of help from RAs, saying the school claimed to be prepared but is not – at least not for quarantine in the first days.

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National Geographic, Aug 21

Though it’s too soon to say which candidates will ultimately be successful, here’s a look at the 8 vaccine prospects that have made it to phase three and beyond—including a quick primer on how they work and where they stand.

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COVID-19 Vaccines Could become Mandatory. Here’s How it Might Work. National Geographic, Aug 19

After a COVID-19 vaccine is available, you may need to get inoculated to go to the office, attend a sporting event, or even get a seat at a restaurant. To be cleared to enter, you’ll also need that document—proof that you’ve received a COVID-19 vaccination.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug 21

Any kind of education record is subject to Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA), so institutions cannot disclose student records without consent. Exceptions include generic, statistical info, though experts suggest avoiding demographic info which can be legally risky.

Regulations are fairly flexible on health and safety, allowing for the possibility of sharing identifying info about infected students with roommates, neighbors and “school officials” including faculty.

Read Full Article

The New York Times, Aug 20

Department of Health and Human Services is giving permission to pharmacists nationwide to administer all scheduled shots to children as young as 3, a step to boost childhood vaccination rates that sagged during pandemic. Flu shots are also an available option for children. Read press release.


Flu Vaccine Now Required for all Massachusetts School Students Enrolled in Child Care, Pre-School, K-12, and Post-Secondary Institutions


The Wall Street Journal, Aug 20

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is reversing the order that hospitals report to HHS. CDC is working to “build a modernized automation process” for hospital data.

Read Full Article

The New York Times, Aug 20

School nurses are already in short supply, with less than 40 percent of schools employing one full time before the pandemic. Now the nurses are finding themselves on the front lines of a risky experiment in protecting public health as doors are reopened amid spiking caseloads. Some large districts teaching online are continuing to provide health care with immunization plans and online platforms to connect with families and students.

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The New York Times, Aug 19

According to new survey, one in 7 parents said their children would be returning to school full time; 4 in 5 said they would have no in-person help educating; one-fifth, possibly priced out of learning pods, are considering hiring a private teacher or tutor.

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The Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug 19

The two universities began in-person classes and abruptly converted to online after new coronaviruses popped up. UNC officials say that conditions changed since summer forecasts indicated a relatively low density of virus and high availability of testing, and did not account for politicization of masks and public-health measures.

While CDC guidance doesn’t recommend testing everyone who is returning to campus, outside experts disagree, saying testing only those with symptoms is inadequate to prevent spread. A modeling study concluded that safe reopening may require testing all students every two days, plus tracing and quarantine.

Behavioral experts say, “Don’t do it” messages alone don’t work, and suggest schools offer positive alternatives to risky student gatherings.

Read Full Article


NC State goes online for the fall semester but lets students stay in dorms. Finger pointed at both “Greek” parties/rush and Board of Governors.

Purdue University suspended 36 students for violating social-distancing and masking guidelines, 24 hrs after new rule that made noncompliance a university violation. 

Baylor University police will patrol off-campus to crack down on gatherings larger than 10 people.

Albion College will forbid off-campus travel, visitors (without special permission), and will track student movement with phone app.

Texas A&M, U North Dakota, U Kansas, all track cases to Frats and Sororities.

Chicago Tribune, Aug 19

The authorization came after a study found this saliva test performs as well as Yale’s spit test. It costs about $10 with 3-5 hr turn-around. U of I created a unit to “take the technology nationwide,” including to K-12 schools, although the timeline is not defined. 

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The Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug 18

With a dearth of test-center seats, students with means travel across state lines to take the ACT or SAT. Admission officials question the ethics of testing requirements during a pandemic.

Read Full Article



NACAC Calls for Changes in Standardized Testing Policies

See the new report here

The Washington Post, Aug 17

177 student cases, most with mild symptoms, have been confirmed out of hundreds tested, with another 349 students in quarantine because of possible exposure. Clusters (5+ cases) were found in 3 residence halls and a frat house. Growing numbers and insufficient control of off-campus behavior pushed the U to go online. On-campus housing was at less than two-thirds of capacity with many students living off campus.

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The Wall Street Journal, Aug 15

The FDA granted emergency use authorization to CovidTrackerCT, run by Yale School of Public Health, for SalivaDirect, which uses spit to test symptomatic people. Next is to prove the test can detect the virus in asymptomatic people. SalivaDirect costs less than $5 per sample and can produce up to 90 results in fewer than 3 hours in any lab, which means it can scale without a complicated supply chain. NBA players have been providing samples for the study.

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Washington Post, Aug 14

Using the rice preset on a Farberware cooker and N95 respirators from 3M, researchers found that 50-min treatments without pressure at a temp of 212 degrees left masks thoroughly cleaned with coronavirus inactivated by at least 99.9% and mask functioning at above 95% efficiency. Findings are based on a specific cooker and a specific N95 mask. See FAQ.

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The Atlantic, Aug 14

e25 Bio in Cambridge, MA has a new kind of spit test that can deliver results in 15 mins and does not require a machine, a reagent, or a doctor. Unlike other tests, the e25 test reacts to the coronavirus’s spike protein – which enables it to hook onto and enter human cells – the presence of which helps determine infectiousness, which other tests don’t measure. The company thinks it could produce 4 million tests a month as soon as it receives FDA approval. 

Read Full Articls

The New York Times, Aug 13

The country was back to “hugging, handshaking, restaurants, and cinemas,” until an outbreak of 4 new cases – in the same family with no travel abroad – led to 17 cases, including family members of employees at a cold storage warehouse. Scientists acknowledge the virus has thrived in cold storage at meatpacking plants and are testing surfaces. Other theories are that the virus came via cargo or quarantine facilities for returning travelers. If the virus is found to have moved through freight, the consequences could be significant for global trade.

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Daily Hampshire Gazette, Aug 11 

1) Test kits will be mailed by Vault Health to all domestic students; international students must acquire their own. After a negative result – before arriving to campus – students must quarantine in a “low risk” state for 14 days. Families have a 15-minute time slot to drop-off students, who will all have single rooms. 

2) Students are then tested for a 2nd time. Until they get a negative result, they will be required to remain quarantined in their room with food delivered, or at home for day students.

3) A third and final test will be required before students can attend class.

Read Full Article

National Geographic, Aug 11

A recent modeling effort by the University of Colorado Boulder may help provide some clues. The data estimates the riskiness of different activities based on one potential route of coronavirus spread: itty-bitty particles known as aerosols.

Read Full Article

Related: In Public Toilets, Flushing isn’t the only COVID-19 Risk National Geographic, June 19, August 11

The Big Ten fall sports seasons are canceled with the hopes of playing in the spring. The Pac-12 follows suit and also voted to postpone its fall sports season, including football.

Read Full Article


NCAA has Released Requirements for Conduct of Fall Sports and Championships (Aug 5)

The Washington Post, August 10

American Academy of Pediatrics reports 179,990 new child cases (under age 19) July 9-August 6, a 90% increase in child cases over 4 weeks. AAP comments it’s hard to sort whether more kids are getting infected or testing capacity has gone up. CDC reports Hispanic (8x) and black (5x) children are more likely to be hospitalized than white peers.

Read Full Article


CNN, August 8

In a study Duke researchers used a $200 laser beam, black box and cell phone, to evaluate transmission of respiratory droplets in 14 types of masks during regular speech. Most effective was fitted N95. Three-layer surgical and cotton masks, also performed well. Neck fleeces, (gaiter masks) folded bandanas and knitted masks were least effective.

Read Full Article

Related: Drury, in Consultation with GCHD, is Banning Neck Gaiters as an Acceptable Face Covering Springfield News Leader, Aug 11

ABC, August 8

The announcement directs community to get flu shots before Nov 1, and CAL system will add it to existing immunization policy, to avoid a surge of flu cases that would burden health care facilities. There will be a process for faculty and staff to request medical exemptions. Requests for disability or religious accommodations will be handled via existing location policies and procedures.

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August 6, CBC

Don’t store masks in a plastic bags which retain moisture and could allow bacteria to grow. Store them in paper bags or envelopes. Rotate 5-7 masks, storing them in paper bags for at least 3 days.

Taking a Breather
Don’t pull mask down and wear it under your chin. It risks getting droplets from the mask’s outside onto your chin and lower lip. Limit putting mask on and off – it creates more chances to contaminate yourself with it.
Change or Wash After Each Use
N95 filters can be damaged with improper cleaning but they can be safely steamed. For cloth masks, washing in the laundry is the most effective, easiest thing to do. Children should be sent to school with two masks – one for before and after lunch.

Re-use disposable masks, or hang cloth masks on your rear view mirror for next day, ONLY if you’ve been in an area with a low prevalence of COVID-19.

Good Quality Masks
(1) Multiple layers. The W.H.O. recommends three layers.
(2) Good fit. The shape doesn’t matter, but a tighter fit forces air through mask instead of around it.
(3) Cotton. Viruses remain detectable in some synthetic materials for a longer time. W.H.O. recommends water-absorbing materials for the inner layer, but synthetic, water-repellent materials for the outer layer.


Read Full Article

WCB5/ABC, August 6


The 15-minute antigen test – a less sensitive nasal swab processed on-site – detects very infectious positive cases when people have the disease in their throats but may miss asymptomatic cases, with roughly a 50% rate of false negatives. FDA authorized Quidel Antigen test for emergency use in May for suspected cases, in the first 5 days of symptoms. It was not authorized by the FDA for asymptomatic people. It may be an effective surveillance tool at schools when tests can be repeated every couple of days on same people.


August 6, The Daily Progress


Blue Ridge School (VA) reopening plan requires that staff and students wear a health-monitoring wristband that tracks symptoms such as body temperature, blood oxygen levels and heart rate. Each band communicates with a smart phone app and tracks the unique codes of all wristbands that come within 6 feet.


Exclusive: School Tracks Staff 24/7 to Fight Covid
Buckswood School (UK) will use “Shield for Schools” – interactive wristbands that use Bluetooth to show “who is near to whom.” Tablets around school will suck data out of each wristband as it goes past, to update contact-tracing.


Read Full Article


Education Week, August 6


As public school districts plan for remote learning and two Republican senators introduce legislation to provide federal aid for private school scholarships, students are applying to private schools. A Survey reported 22% of K-12 parents will change kids’ school in fall. Higher income respondents were less concerned about death/illness and less supportive of remote learning. But there is uneven access to private schools in US, with 92% urban homes having a private school within 5 miles, but only 34% have such proximity in rural areas.

Here is a Snapshot of School Districts’ Reopening Plans


Read Full Article

August 6, The New York Times


Whether private schools are able to opt out of public health orders or must follow public school district decisions, varies by State, underscoring inequity. Montgomery County, MD is the epicenter of the debate where, in addition to the county-state dispute, a group of parents filed a federal lawsuit to overturn the county’s order that independent schools start remote. In NM, independent schools must follow public health orders for businesses.


Washington Post-Schar School survey conducted by Ipsos shows most parents favor a hybrid model; views are split by partisanship and race; and 70% of private school parents in survey feel in-person classes are safe.


Orange County, NC health department asked UNC Chapel Hill to move online for fall, but the school will start in-person. Conversely, Johns Hopkins reversed its in-person decision and will be online, encouraging students not to come to Baltimore.


Read Full Article

August 6, The Washington Post

In Corinth, MI one high-schooler tested positive on the Friday of opening week. Early the second week the count rose to 6 students and one staff. End of 2nd week, with contact-tracing, 116 students are in quarantine, and will finish online. School remains open in-person.

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August 4 • The Wall Street Journal

Some schools report a combination of factors that would lead to closure such as student or staff deaths, increasing infection rates, and ICU facilities at capacity.


U Texas at Austin published a comprehensive list of variables to be weighed. Syracuse has identified five levels of outbreaks with response plans for each level.

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August 4 • Business Insider


Montgomery County health officer barred nonpublic schools from starting in-person classed before Oct 1, but MD governor blocked the order, stating also that public school leaders have flexibility to decide whether to open for in-person classes. The county is home to St. Andrew’s Episcopal School that posted its strict health and safety guidelines.


Read Full Article

August 3 • The Wall Street Journal

To address a shortage of N95 masks, the FDA made an early emergency decision to allow import of millions of Chinese-made masks, called KN95s, then revoked its approval after masks flooded in. FDA now posts lists of Chinese-made respirators that are “authorized” and “no longer authorized” for medical use. Some manufacturers are on both lists, distinguished by often-similar model numbers. See the difference between N95 and KN95 masks here.


Read Full Article

August 3 • Inside Higher Ed


A new modeling study found that frequency of testing is more important than accuracy, if screening is coupled with “strict behavioral interventions” and quarantine of positive students. Screening costs vary, with testing every 2-daysaveraging $470/student/semester. Challenges lie in getting enough tests – and, getting results back within 2-3 days may not be possible right now, with 75% of results coming back is as much as 5 days. Several Northeast schools have access to testing through a nonprofit biomedical research center in Cambridge, MA that is charging $25 -$30/test. Elsewhere, prices can surpass $100/test. 

Read Full Article

July News

July 31 • National Geographic


Most camps focus on mitigation, not elimination, employing CDC guidelines plus a spin on social bubbles where each cabin keeps contact with the rest of the population to an absolute minimum. Staff quarantine at camp for two weeks before kids arrive, with same requested of parents and kids. Events are live-streamed in case campers fall ill. At camps where outbreaks occurred, campers were not required to wear masks or social distance, and were indoors for events with no extra ventilation.

Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona created “Camp Log On,” including “Camp-in-a-Box” and themed at-home camps to choose from. Also, American Camp Association & YMCA’s 90-page “Field Guide”


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July 30, WGBH News

The number of contacts is likely to increase if kids are in school two days, then three days at home, possibly with child care – a new contact they would not have made otherwise, providing a chance to become infected and bring it to school.


Read Full Article

July, Institute of International Education (IIE)

A quick read with infographics. Focus is on: 
1) institutional responses in summer and fall 2020
2) current and prospective international students
3) U.S. study abroad

Read Full Article

July 30 • The Globe and Mail

High school students at large schools will attend every other day in cohorts of 15; at small schools, every day. Non-medical masks are required for grades 4 to 12. Families have option of remote learning at all levels. Government will provide $309-million for cleaning, public-health nurses, masks and PPE.

Read Full Article


July 30 • The New York Times

Dissatisfied with distance learning, parents of K-4 look to schooling pods with three to 10 students taught together by parents or a hired teacher. Some hiring platforms are Schoolhouse, Whiz Kidz, Selected For Families, and Learning Pods. Very costly at $68,750 for a 5-month commitment with Hudson Lab School, pods may lack diversity and worsen the educational divide.

Read Full Article


July 30 • The New York Times

Infected children younger than 5 may have as much or more viral RNA in noses and throats as infected adults, while ages 5-17 had results similar to adults.

Read Full Article

July 28 • The Dartmouth

Except for bathrooms, students living on Dartmouth’s campus will be required to stay in rooms with meals delivered, until they test negative. After first negative result, they may leave rooms to pick up food, exercise or participate in specific outdoor activities limited to nine people. Seven days later, they re-test. If positive, they move to isolation housing. All students will sign a “community expectations agreement.”

Yale will require and pay for tests pre-arrival, and at-arrival. And, they will require ongoing self-administered testing of asymptomatic individuals. Students will also quarantine until negative test and sign a Community Compact.

Read Full Article

July 28 • Detroit Free Press

The case is one of several filed against universities by students seeking some sort of tuition refund because of switch to online instruction. U-M gave refunds for housing, not tuition.

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Reuters • July 28

Midland School (CA) will welcome all 85 students to campus for outdoor classes, with a late start and no October break. Parents can visit and hike, but are not allowed in certain areas. Roommates will become de facto family members for the purposes of social distancing and wearing masks. The school hopes students will be tested and will quarantine before arriving.

At Deerfield Academy (MA) all students will have single rooms and a building is being remodeled for quarantining. The Ethel Walker School (CT) is purchasing tent cabanas and Adirondack chairs for some classes outdoors.

Read Full Article

Wall Street Journal • July 27

More outbreaks mean more testing capacity. Final-stage trials from Moderna, Pfizer, and its partner, BioNTech SE are slated for late July.

Read Full Article

Wired • July 27

Norway & Denmark: in May/June, gradual, monitored lift of national restrictions, opened for younger students, with more sanitizing, limited class size, small recess groups and space between desks. No rise in cases.

Israel: in May, full lift of national restrictions, opened for all ages, with no masking or social distancing, and up to 40 students per class. Saw outbreaks with 1,335 infected students and 691 staff as of July 15.

Read Full Article

The New York Times • July 27

In addition to previous flu studies, a covid-specific Study shows that masks may work both ways, protecting the wearer as well as others. Researchers observe that wearers who get exposed might get less sick or be asymptomatic.

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The New York Times • July 24

The CDC released updated guidelines for reopening schools. The statement that emphasizes the importance of reopening was created by a group at the Department of Health and Human Services, without direct input from CDC experts criticized for being too cautious.

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Deutsche Welle (DW) • July 23

Research suggests that as many as 40-45% of infected people may be asymptomatic, and able to transmit the virus, perhaps for longer than 14 days. Lack of symptoms does not imply lack of harm to body. FDA authorizes tests for asymptomatic people.

Read Full Article

July 22, National Geographic

Asymptomatic cases make up 40% of infections in the US according to estimates from CDC, which is not unusual for respiratory viruses. A study of 18 respiratory viruses showed 55% of positive cases were symptom-free, and asymptomatic infection rates exceeded 70% for most of the viruses. It’s unclear how contagious they might be. Asymptomatic cases might have fewer ACE2 receptors, the cellular doorways for the coronavirus

Read Full Article



The Coronavirus Is New, but Your Immune System Might Still Recognize It August 6, The New York Times

Recent studies show 20 to 50% of people in some places might have an immune component called “memory T cells,” developed in response to other coronaviruses but which will fight novel coronavirus. This may account for some people having no, or lighter, symptoms.


Chicago Tribune • July 22

One of the fundamentals of micro-schooling is reversing who moves. We’re used to children going to school to see teachers. Flip the scenario with teachers visiting cohort sites within the community.

Read Full Article

July 22 • NPR

Over 500 schools still say they will either be fully or mostly in person, but more and more schools are shifting online, reversing previous decisions. Some early plans included testing, which may not be as available as needed, and some state regulations make the safety of off-campus unpredictable and questionable.

Read Full Article

July 20 • Chronicle of Higher Education

Private colleges start to reverse decisions for in-person teaching, turning hybrid models to remote; while public colleges must follow state guidelines. UC Berkeley, Miami Dade, Grinnell, influential HBCUs, and numerous Georgia private colleges will start or go remote.

The Chronicle is Tracking Colleges’ Plans

University of Texas Austin: Triggers for Partial/Complete Closure


Read Full Article

July 20 • The Wall Street Journal

Many European countries have kept re-opening numbers down by enforced: social distancing, enhanced hygiene, masks – and banning of superspreading events believed to have acted as incubators for the pandemic.

Read Full Article

July 18 • Axios

The FDA authorized use of Quest Diagnostics’ SARS-CoV-2 rRT-PCR test for pooled testing with up to 4 specimens.


Read Full Article

July 18 • The New York Times

A rigorous study with “great contact tracing” of 65,000 in South Korea showed that household transmission was high for children of age 10–19; with children under 10 still half as likely to spread the virus. Country by country evidence on transmission in schools is inconclusive, suggesting there will be transmission, and plans for testing and quarantine are extremely important.


Read Full Article

July 18 • The Washington Post

Contact tracing of infection clusters show that most cases in a cluster outbreak can be traced to a few highly infectious individuals, suggesting the virus might be spread in bursts. Rather than looking at the rate that any average person spreads the virus, the model for spread may be that a few highly infective people can infect up to 80% of people in a group. “Superspreader” events seem to occur from the presence of such individuals plus a lack of ventilation, or indoor air circulation that directs viral particles from the highly infectious person to other people. Highly infectious individuals have been found to be presymptomatic or asympotomatic, generally young (20-39).

For Boarding Schools, this may mean that small groups, or pods, may limit outbreaks.


Read Full Article

July 17 • San Francisco Chronicle

While swab testing at the park’s health clinic has yet to yield a case of the coronavirus, the lab testing of raw sewage detected the virus. Wastewater testing is seen as a complement to clinical testing, which has been hampered by test shortages, long waits for results and false negatives.
Read Full Article

July 1, ABC News

Respiratory droplets traveled:

  • 8 feet with no mask;
  • 3+ feet with a bandana;
  • 1+ feet with a folded handkerchief
  • 8 inches with a cone-shaped mask
  • 2.5 inches with a quilting cotton mask
  • Read Full Article

    July 17 • Inside Higher Ed

    Fearing lawsuits as colleges reopen, the American Council on Education has been pushing for liability protection from those contracting the coronavirus – but a proposal by Senate Republicans would make it harder to sue universities. It’s expected to face opposition from Democrats and Teachers’ Unions.

    Read Full Article

    July 16 • New York Times

    Public schools, which serve roughly 90 percent of American children, tend to have less money, larger class sizes and less flexibility to make changes to things like the curriculum, facilities or work force. There’s speculation that never has the disparity between public and private school has never been so vast as now.  

    July 15 • Chron


    The university will use five 40×60 foot tents, each holding 25 to 30 students, to promote air flow and social distancing.


    Read Full Article

    July 15 • The Hill

    Of 54,022 Florida children, 31% tested positive, higher than the statewide rate of 11%. Some x-rays reveal damage to lungs, even in asymptomatic children. About 17% of Florida’s 287,800 cases are younger than 18.

    Some say case numbers in children are rising because more children are being tested now; or numbers were underestimated because mild cases weren’t tested. Others say early evidence showing low rates was collected in countries that were already in lockdown or had begun to implement other preventive measures. 

    Read Full Article

    July 14 • New York Times


    U.S. hospitals are ordered to bypass the C.D.C. and send all Covid-19 patient info to a central database in Washington. The database will not be open to the public, which could affect the work of researchers and health officials to make projections and decisions. The Department of Health & Human Services says the two agency systems will be linked and info will be streamlined, but the C.D.C. will not control it, raising questions about transparency and politicization.


    Read Full Article

    July 14 • The Chronicle of Higher Education

    The Trump administration has rescinded guidance that would have prohibited international students from studying at campuses offering online-only instruction this fall. The move came earlier today amid widespread pushback alleging unnecessary cruelty by the White House during a deadly pandemic.

    Here’s some of the “pushback”:
    NAIS and TABS Statement on the Change in SEVP Rules for International Students
    – the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration worked with 180 institutions to file an amicus brief in support of rescinding the guidance
    – NAFSA: Association of International Educators sent a letter to the administration requesting the guidance be rescinded
    Faculty at Yale volunteered to teach in-person if the school must convert to 100% online
    – a Stanford professor tweeted that he’d teach in-person in the football stadium to subvert the Trump ruling
    – and of course, the MIT & Harvard lawsuit


    Read Full Article

    July 13 • The New York Times


    Meal time will change dramatically as schools try to feed the myriad students between classes in a socially distanced manner. Enter: outdoor tents, pop up food restaurants, grab-and-go food stations, and robot deliveries (aka. high tech coolers on wheels) from food service giant, Sodexo. They’re also giving advice on Six Foot Kitchens.


    Read Full Article

    July 11 • The New York Times


    A report by University of Washington researchers provides a comparison chart of models and early result for 15 countries. Most countries where schools opened after reducing infection levels and imposing distancing measures have not had outbreaks. School-based outbreaks seem to have occurred in countries with higher community infection levels or in countries that may have eased safety guidelines too soon.

    Read Full Article

    July 10, 2020 • Marketwatch

    Carrier is launching the OptiClean 1500-cfm Dual-Mode Air Scrubber & Negative Air Machine, to be used in institutional settings such as schools, to help keep air clear of contaminants like coronavirus. It uses a long-life HEPA filter and a standard wall outlet; is portable and takes three square feet of space. 

    Read Full Article

    July 9 • Associated  Press

    The CDC will not revise guidelines for schools, despite criticism from President Trump and his threats to withhold federal school funding from those that offer online options; the CDC will provide information to help schools use current guidelines.
    Soon-to-be released draft CDC documents attained by the Associated Press include a 30-question parent checklist about a child’s health, use of special ed services, comfort about school plans and whether parents can facilitate at-home learning. If parents check multiple items on the “stay-at-home” column, it “could be an indicator that your family should consider alternative learning fostudirmats other than in-person schooling.”

    A draft graph of CDC modeling indicates significantly more virus spread if all students attend school five days a week, and projects alternate scheduling could cut infection by as much as 80%.

    Assessing studies about children and COVID-19, some experts suggest schools reopening will not drive spread of the pandemic, but the key to reopening is having the capacity to know quickly when an outbreak occurs–which requires “school-based testing”–followed by a containment plan.


    Read Full Article

    July 9, 2020 • The New York Times

    The White House created Operation Warp Speed, an effort to accelerate vaccine development and address who will get the first doses of any effective coronavirus vaccines. A ranking system for rollout in the US would first distribute to vital medical and national security officials, then to other essential workers and those considered at high risk. A new contentious option is putting Black and Latino people, who have disproportionately fallen victim to Covid-19, ahead of others in the population.

    July 8, 2020 • ESPN


    This is the first D-1 conference to cancel. Student-athletes will be allowed to practice on campus, in modified form. Late July is the tentative benchmark to reevaluate if, when or how college football season can start.

    Read Full Article

    Related: The 2020 College Football Season Deconstruction Project Has Begun
    July 9, Sports Illustrated – The Big Ten announced it will play a conference-only schedule in 2020.

    Related: Stanford to cut 11 Varsity Sports after the Next Academic Year for “Fiscal Stability” July 8, Forbes
    July 6, 2020 • New York Times “The Daily”
    1 –  It seems to be vascular, not respiratory.
    2 – It’s becoming more transmissible through mutations, though maybe less lethal.
    3 – There’s evidence of aerosol transmission-indoors presents higher threats.
    4 – There is growing evidence kids are not big transmitters to adults.

    Listen to the 29 Minute Podcast

    Related: Airborne SARS-CoV-2 is Rapidly Inactivated by Simulated Sunlight
    (June 11, The Journal of Infectious Diseases)

    July 4, The New York Times

    In an open letter to the W.H.O., scientists from 32 countries claim coronavirus may be airborne and that smaller particles can infect people. Previously the W.H.O. said airborne transmission is possible only after medical procedures that produce aerosols (droplets smaller than 5 microns).

    Researchers point to several incidents that indicate airborne transmission of the virus, particularly in poorly ventilated and crowded indoor spaces, with prolonged contact at close range, and at “superspreader” events.

    Read Full Article

    June News

    June 29, 2020 • Inside Higher Ed

    Bowdoin and Middlebury announced their fall reopening plans. It’s hard to imagine how, faced with the same facts, they could have come to such different conclusions about how to best educate their students and care for their communities. 

    Here’s the side-by-side comparison

    June 20-26, CDC

    Numerous studies show that children have fewer, milder cases, likely contracted from adults. Also, schools reopening in areas where disease transmission is low will not likely increase transmission rates.

    Here are a Few Highlights
    Here is the Full Report

    June 26, Vox

    Universities dependent on tuition are weighing the health of their community against their bottom line, and public universities have less flexibility enforcing safety measures.

    The Chronicle of Higher Education reported 63% of colleges will offer an in-person semester, 17% will operate hybrid model, 8% percent will commit to remote learning, 7% report “range of scenarios” and 5% waiting to decide.

    Faculty are demanding that everyone have the right to teach remotely with no questions asked about medical information or age. They see a lack of clarity around who gets to be exempted from in-person teaching and whether cases can be appealed, and the onus is on them for enforcing public health policies.

    Read Full Article

    June 29, 2020 • NPR

    The American Academy of Pediatrics released a strong statement arguing that “all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”

    Not only is there mounting evidence that transmission by children is uncommon, but schools are fundamental to adolescent development and well-being. Without school, there can be severe learning loss and increased social isolation, which contributes to social, emotional and health issues. These impacts are more severe for black and brown children, low-income children, and those with learning disabilities.

    The three U.S. educator unions argue that remote learning should continue.

    June 29, 2020 • Art & Science Group with work from The College Board

    81% rising high school seniors believe colleges will be open by fall 2021 but confidence varies by subgroup with more doubts among low-income students.

    66% are more likely to apply if the application deadline is extended

    43% are concerned the pandemic has affected their qualifications due to:
    • inability to show strong interest by visiting a the campus
    • holes in academic records and lack of extracurricular involvement
    • no test scores (2/3 did not take SAT and 3/4 did not take ACT)

    20% more likely now to apply for early decision, especially among Black and Hispanic students

    90% percent would still apply to a college even if they could not visit. Most helpful in lieu of visiting are virtual tours (77%), college websites (75%), personalized emails (51%), virtual Q&A sessions (46%), digital ads (9%)

    37% attended a virtual information session; 89% would attend another.

    Read Full Article


    June 29, 2020 •

    Even when contact-tracing or alerting students who may have been exposed to COVID-19, UNC’s website said they would not consider students who sat 3 feet apart and wore masks to be ‘close contacts’ – and therefore they would not be considered someone who needs to be traced, alerted or quarantined.

    Read Full Article

    June 27, 2020 • Los Angeles Times

    California seismologist who conceived “Drop! Cover! Hold On!” to stay safe from earthquakes is suggesting we simplify the COVID-19 safety message similarly. In a crisis, she submits, people can’t sort out dozens of measures to take for their safety. Simply, “don’t share your air” addresses both mask and distancing issues.

    June 26, 2020 • Washington Post

    U.S. Health officials are having intense discussions about “pool testing,” a.k.a. batch testing. The method, previously used for STDs and HIV, combines samples from different people and tests them for coronavirus all at once. If the test is positive, each person in the pool is tested and results are individually analyzed to find whose sample produced the positive result.

    It is most useful in large populations where the infection rate is believed to be low, like camps, schools, offices and correctional institutions. However, low viral loads are more likely to go undetected in a pool (the bigger the pool, the more diluted).

    Read Full Article

    June 24, 2020 • CBC News


    This testing is an efficient way to detect outbreaks at vulnerable institutions without having to test everyone. It could provide earlier warning (than could clinical tests or hospitalizations) that the disease’s spread is growing in a community, particularly when a second wave of the epidemic arrives. 

    NPR • June 24, 2020

    The YMCA of the USA and NYC Department of Education show NO reports of coronavirus outbreaks after providing care for children of front-line workers throughout pandemic. What did they do?

    • Groupings of non-intermingling “pods” of 9 children or less
    • Use of large spaces, such as basketball courts or boardrooms
    • Temperature checks and symptom screenings upon entry
    • Children’s hands are stamped or doodled on before each new activity, after which, they scrub it off; no sharing of materials
    • Reinforce social distancing by making “airplane arms”
    • Frequent and consistent communication with parents

    There is converging evidence that the coronavirus doesn’t transmit like the flu among children. There are almost no recorded cases of child-to-adult transmission. Children seem to be less likely to get infected and when infected, are often mildly symptomatic/asymptomatic.

    Read Full Article

    Guidelines from CT Governor’s Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group, Inc.


    • Fall semester is Aug 31 to Thanksgiving; final exams will NOT be in person
    • Faculty choice to teach online (synchronous or asynchronous), in-person or hybrid
    • Classes recorded and available online, even when taught in-person
    • Tuition rates remain unchanged
    Living on Campus
    • Reduced-density dorms and designated quarantine space
    • Students living on campus must arrive two weeks before the start of class
    • Dining hall food is take-out only
    • Housing and dining fees remain unchanged

    Campus Services
    Health & Safety

    Read Full Article
    Newsweek • June 18, 2020

    Two studies from Chinese scientists cast doubt over long-lasting immunity to coronavirus, prompting them to question the use of immunity certificates. They support the prolongation of public health interventions, including social distancing, hygiene, isolation of high-risk groups and widespread testing.

    Notable Findings re: Anti-Body Testing:
    • Antibodies for first line of defense are detectable around 7 days after infection. Virus-specific (IgG ) antibodies are detectable in about 2 weeks.
    • Symptomatic patients show significantly higher levels of virus-specific antibodies than asymptomatic patients.
    • Anti-bodies might not be produced to a detectable extent in all people infected.
    • Virus-specific anti-body levels and neutralizing antibodies seem to start decreasing within 2–3 months after infection.
    • Asymptomatic patients seem to drop anti-bodies at faster rate than symptomatic patients.
    • Scientists observe that “the stronger the inflammatory reaction to the infection, the higher the antibody levels produced.” Ethnic background, genetic factors, and infection rate may also be important.

    Read Full Article

    USA Today • June 17, 2020

    Employers cannot require coronavirus Antibody Testing for employees returning to work but without violating federal law, they CAN:
    • test workers for the immediate presence of COVID-19 (using test methods other than anti-body testing), under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
    • require workers to wear masks.
    • require that employees get temperatures checked.

    Read Full Article

    CBS News • June 14, 2020

    UNC Chapel-Hill adjusts fall schedule and puts rules in place:

    • Starting fall semester early
    • Final exams before Thanksgiving
    • Students will stay home from Thanksgiving til New Year
    • Lecture classes downsized.
    • 100% masked in classroom
    • Reduce density of “leaky” environment – not allowing large numbers to congregate.
    • Two dorms set aside for quarantine.

    Cal State announced classes will be primarily online. William & Mary students will have flexibility to finish school year through next summer.

    Read Full Article

    OpenSmartEDU • June 12, 2020

    A planning tool for Self-Assessment, Risk Management & Re-Open Planning, created by Tuscany Strategy Consulting and Center for Health Security Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, with advisors from Johns Hopkins University.

    The Introduction provides discussion of four central questions about addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Does the school have:

    (1) sufficient health & safety materials and protocols

    (2) sufficient financial resources

    (3) a quality (though modified) academic program

    (4) requisite new management and oversight capabilities

    Also discussed is assessment of the school’s threshold for re-opening; practical use of key COVID-19 indicators; and establishment of risk alert levels with protocols and management for each.

    15 short Chapters are each dedicated to a specific response Workgroup, and include a brief introduction and series of numbered statements (over 500 total) that suggest a well-researched course of action, to be considered by the Workgroup. Suggested courses of action are highly specific, with an emphasis on modeling. Each Chapter provides links to subject-specific resources.

    The Guide’s Table of Contents makes it easy to jump to Chapters and Sub-Chapters. The Chapters are as follows:

    LEADERSHIP PLANNING: Vision & Planning (including Coordination across Workgroups and Equity, Inclusion & Commitment of Care)

    CROSS-FUNCTIONAL AREAS: Outbreak Mitigation Protocols & Emergency Planning; Health Safety; Measures & Policies; Communications; Finance; Legal

    FUNCTIONAL AREAS: Academics; Faculty & Faculty Governance; Student Services; Student Life; Athletics; Health Services; Information Technology; Campus Infrastructure; Government Affairs

    Click for Complete Guide & Downloadable Self-Assessment Tool

    The New Yorker • June 1, 2020

    Iceland used early planning, extensive testing (15.5% of pop), contact tracing by police-detectives, and mandatory quarantine to eliminate nearly all cases of the virus in a now maskless society.

    Any individuals determined to be within a 2-meter radius of an infected person were ordered to quarantine for 14 days. As many as 200 people were quarantined per one infected person.

    Travel to the island was restricted, with incoming people required to quarantine for 14 days.

    Different strains (mutations) came from Italy, Britain, East & West coasts of USA.

    There are only two instances where a child infected a parent.

    Read Full Article
    May News

    Cult of Pedagogy • May 24, 2020

    Strategies for maintaining health within communities:

    • COHORTS of small groups of students stay together
    • Students and teachers stay in ONE COURSE FOR SEVERAL WEEKS, then rotate
    • Students stay in a ONE ROOM SCHOOLHOUSE all day, studying multiple subjects with the same teacher. Teachers might shift to Project Based Learning, where students are engaged in long-term projects that incorporate learning from multiple subject areas.
    • A/B SCHEDULES where some students come on A days and others on B days. Those not at school would do remote learning
    • HALF DAYS where half the students attend in the morning and half in the afternoon.


    • Give space to grieve – Acknowledging the loss will allow you, your colleagues, and your students to feel validated.

    Read Full Article

    ProPublica • May 23, 2020

    Studies in NYC, Guangzhou and Iceland show children infected with the virus do not get as sick as adults, and children had much lower rates of infection. However, child infections were similar to the population at large in a Shenzhen study.

    In May, a severe Inflammatory syndrome, similar to Kawasaki disease, has arisen in children associated with COVID-19. Mortality risk is low due to known treatments.

    Children and adults who are infected have similar “viral loads” – a measure of the amount of virus being emitted from cells, and considered a proxy for how infectious a person is.

    Two of the hardest-hit areas in China found that after just over a month of lockdown, on average, about a fifth of students experienced depression or anxiety or academic setbacks.

    A unique tactic to create safe living spaces is aligning beds so students sleep head to toe and 6 feet apart.

    Read Full Article

    The New Yorker • May 22, 2020

    Mass General Brigham Hospital (Boston) has had successfully healthy work conditions with approx. 50,000 employees working. Unique practices:

    Surgery rule: “Once you scrub in, never let your hands fall below your waist.”

    Maximum 4 people in elevators built for 20.

    Employees do a daily self-evaluation on a web app before entering hospital

    Of interest:
    • Less than 15 mins near an infected person might make spread unlikely.

    • Early on, fever is present less than half the time. Mild symptoms are important to screen for.

    • Studies consistently show infectivity starts before symptoms do; peaks around the day they start; and declines substantially by five days or so.

    • Admin looked for correlations with high-risk hospital assignments and found none; where people lived made a difference.

    Read Full Article

    The Atlantic • May 19, 2020

    Considerations for Re-Opening:

    • How to police student movement to help contact-tracing
    • How to prevent asymptomatic students spreading the virus
    • Can the local public-health system handle whatever occurs?
    • Plan A & B for vaccine/no vaccine; and for robust testing or lackluster testing
    • Dedicated quarantine facilities where airflow is controlled to reduce cross-infection
    • Local hotels for more social distancing in housing
    • Apartment-style housing so students have their own bathroom
    • Acknowledge we’re social distancing in spaces designed

    Read Full Article

    May 15 2020

    Notable re-opening protocols at Saigon South International School (SSIS):

  • Lunchtimes are staggered.
  • All students required to attend a 40-minute health and safety training.
  • Video re proper hand washing technique continues to run throughout the school.
  • Before students enter classroom/new space, teacher disinfects their hands.
  • School supplies a plastic ziplock-bag to store masks when removed.
  • Blue distancing dots and yellow stripes to create directional lanes.
  • All student seating faces one direction.
  • A thermal scanner monitors everyone entering the campus.
  • Vital that students’ thoughts and feelings are heard and validated at this time.

  • Read Full Article

    New England Board of Higher Educations • May 14, 2020

    Notable considerations/Steps for Assessing and Managing Risks

    • Need capacity to change course, ie Plan B, C, D, E, inc plan for a virus outbreak.
    • Need ways to assess differences between flu and COVID when flu season hits.
    • Chart risks with red, yellow or green designation: high risk, medium risk and low risk.
    • Chart ameliorating actions with a measurement: high, moderate or low effectiveness.
    • Establish critical evaluation of compliance on a go-forward basis.
    • Establish mechanisms for encouragement and dealing with those who fail to comply.
    • Need a mechanism in place for ongoing communication as issues and questions arise.
    • Social media outlets need to be monitored.
    • Many potential reporting requirements.
    • New costs are not one-time costs
    • Anything published needs to state explicitly that the plan can be adapted when circumstances require and may well change.

    Read Full Article