Posted on July 28, 2020
Check out the CovKid Project. This team of doctors and scientists are keeping track of kids across the nation who are testing positive for the virus, as well as hospitalizations and deaths. Thanks to Dr. Theresa Chapple for sharing this site info with me on Twitter.
This site looks at the national picture and breaks down information by region. I’m particularly interested in the Southeast Region. As of July 25, over 131,000 children have tested positive, 213 admitted to intensive care, and there have been 21 deaths.
There are numerous resources and charts, including graphs on racial and ethnic disparities. Also check out their blog, the COVIDKID Compass for updates and recent data (such as figuring out the Florida statistical debacle).
This looks like a great site with professional, unbiased research relating to kids and Covid.
Posted on July 26, 2020
A few months ago, word got out that children do not get Covid-19 (except when they do). Or if they do, their symptoms are mild (except when they’re not). They may not carry a heavy viral load, according to reports. And they don’t seem to transmit it to adults (except when they do). Yet, each day, news outlets report children of all ages testing positive for Covid-19, some with serious illness or death. The truth is, we don’t know. We don’t know the long -term effects and we don’t know how children in the United States will be affected.
Researchers and politicians who want kids back in school full-time, 5 days a week, tend to cite studies about schools in Europe and their successful reentry of children into the classroom. This, however, is the main takeaway: “He added that the study was representative for the state of Saxony, however, which has a relatively low rate of infection compared with other parts of Germany.”
In comparing ourselves with other nations, we must look at their local rate of infection and what they have done to mitigate the virus. In Germany, for example, students can administer weekly Covid self-tests before heading off to school. Self-tests? Enough for all the students? Each week? Do those things exist?
Not here in the USA where it takes several days to get a result. Not here where, particularly in rural regions, many people don’t wear masks.
Here is a list of articles where children have tested positive for Covid-19, some who have become ill, and some who have died. I found these in a ten-minute Google search. This short list is heartbreaking and unfortunately, more stories can be added. Researchers, and the media, need to up their game or at least explain to me why these children and young adults are getting the virus if children can’t get the virus.
36 students positive for COVID-19 after high school sports camps, Illinois officials say
Posted on July 22, 2020
School districts across the nation are voting on their back to school plans. None are good options. All have flaws. In my area of Virginia, the largest suburban districts – Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William – have all decided to begin Fall 2020 virtually. However, those of us at the end of the I-66 corridor and beyond will be in the classroom. Even though my rural county is considered to have just experienced an outbreak, our local health district director has warned area superintendents that schools will not be “100% safe”, and there is significant growing evidence that children and young adults do get Covid, we are returning to the classroom in August.
Why? my suburban and city friends ask me. Why not go virtual? One reason we are returning is due to the lack of internet for many of our students. Child care is another issue – and socioeconomics connects both of these issues – but today, my focus is on the internet, or lack thereof, in rural areas. I understand completely why we’re doing this but I’m still scared.
We are returning on a staggered schedule, with our school population divided into small groups. Group A on Monday and Tuesday. Group B on Thursday and Friday. Wednesdays are reserved for deep cleaning, even though the virus is also airborne. Students at the high school are required to wear masks when social distancing is not possible. Sneeze guards are being placed around desks. Masks are offered to teachers. We are getting two weeks of professional development to help shape our online content for the days of remote learning. I believe our school system is doing everything it can possibly do, given the circumstances, besides going 100% virtual. And I’m still scared.
So into the classroom we go, an experiment, I feel, in crowds and enclosed spaces. I’ll deal with my personal fears and pre-existing conditions in another post. First, the questions: Will students wear their masks? Will they stay six feet apart for 7 hours a day? Will they be the dreaded super spreaders – few symptoms but high contagion?
Will How many teachers, teacher assistants, bus drivers, office staff, and administrators will get infected in rural areas?
Kids are still indoors, inside classrooms. Maybe I’ll have ten or fewer teenagers in my classroom, behind sneezeguards, six feet apart…but in this setting – six feet apart – masks are not required to be worn by students. I’m not sure why the governor hasn’t updated this rule yet. It would help. A little. I mean, several people are still breathing in an enclosed space for several hours. I’ll wear my mask…but I’m still scared.
Here’s the thing. We cannot go 100% virtual. We discovered in March, March 13, Friday the 13th to be exact, when Governor Northam closed all Virginia public schools. Two weeks later, we were closed for the rest of the school year. Within those two weeks, teachers were to develop online lessons and have downloadable files for flash drives for those without internet along with paper packets. In April, our district handed out laptops to students who needed them, along with the flash drives. We gave laptops to nearly half of our student population. Half.
Our superintendent also worked with community businesses and churches to offer hotspots throughout our county. Stores, churches, and fire halls offered free WiFi. Sort of a drive up service. Doing homework in your car isn’t ideal at all, but that’s what we’ve got.
We also discovered internet issues with those who did have some service. We’re in a mountainous area, near Shenandoah National Park. There are pockets of internet accessibility (I’m in one. My husband has worked from home for years because we can get unlimited broadband. We can also *afford* unlimited broadband.) What we soon discovered was that folks that did have internet was often satellite, sometimes dial up. Then you have two or more people working from home – siblings, siblings home from college, parents working from home – and systems started to crash.
I teach advanced English courses. For the most part, my students are motivated and college bound. I offered 2x a week Zooms, using the Canvas system through the community college. Of my approximately 30 students, about 15 showed up on a regular basis. Several emailed me immediately and said, they just didn’t have enough bandwidth to participate (this is before I figured out the phone call in option). Others tried but the sound was spotty or the picture cut out. I recorded the sessions and emailed them but again…bandwidth.
Senator Warner has proposed an Internet for All Act. Our electric cooperative is working on fiber optics. None of this will be here by August. Our choices are, quite honestly, limited. Rural districts will be the experiment for the rest of the state. I’m scared.
Posted on July 13, 2020
There are several threads in the story, of course. Not only is Jessamine trying to figure out how to escape this marriage in the early 1900’s, her son, Tennyson, is getting into his own brand of trouble. He is, in the story and in real life, a moonshine bootlegger. He leaves Virginia for a time, and heads out west to Kansas. Problem is, telling all of Tennyson’s story and research would be a big spoiler for the ending…so instead…here are a few things Tennyson had in his possession:
Like I said, he was getting into his own brand of trouble.
Posted on July 13, 2020
This is how Moonshine Poet happened for me. After a five-year stint in Arizona, I returned home to Virginia and spent several days visiting my grandmother who, then, lived in Floyd county. She and I share the family genealogy bug and she handed me a newly discovered hundred-page deposition. What she found was kept a family secret for three generations, a suit for divorce in 1919. The deposition vividly described my twice-great grandmother’s charges against her abusive husband. Each family member was deposed, even the children. Suddenly, my deceased relatives became real.
The depositions were painful to read, even a century later. Yet…the story was there. As I re-read the document, my twice-great grandmother’s words and strength under interrogation leapt from the page. It was her voice that prompted me to write.
Q: If he would come back and treat you as he did from the 10th - 24th of May 1919? A: I would not. He was more abusive to the children then...I won’t turn my children for no man.
This was the story. I won’t turn my children for no man…One woman, who fought for herself and fought even harder for her family. One woman unwilling to accept the circumstances of her time.