Thursday, November 30, 2023

Why Covid Lockdowns and Mask Mandates Made Children Sicker: It’s no surprise respiratory viruses are infecting kids sheltered by years of lockdowns; Why Aren't Kids Going to School? COVID Taught Them Some Bad Habits, and other C-Virus related stories

Photo: Tampa Bay Times/Zuma Press
Why Covid Lockdowns and Mask Mandates Made Children Sicker:
It’s no surprise respiratory viruses are infecting kids sheltered by years of lockdowns.
Here we go again. The World Health Organization on Nov. 22 said it is looking into media reports of Chinese hospitals overwhelmed by sick children. Chinese authorities attribute the surge to higher circulation of seasonal bugs like the flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. The reports have raised concerns about a potentially novel pathogen spreading in China and renewed suspicions about Beijing’s lack of transparency.
“It is not at all clear when this outbreak started as it would be unusual for so many children to be affected so quickly,” the International Society for Infectious Diseases’ Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases reported.
Yet it isn’t surprising that respiratory viruses—suppressed by nearly three years of Covid lockdowns—would come back with a vengeance in China amid low levels of natural immunity. Children are especially susceptible to bugs their immune systems have never encountered, and there are hundreds of them.
It’s also possible that lockdowns and mask mandates impaired children’s immune development, making them more vulnerable to viruses that usually cause mild cold- and flu-like symptoms. Regardless, China’s crowded hospitals are more evidence that there are far more dangerous pathogens than Covid for children.
Meantime, public-health experts in the U.S. are raising alarms about hospitals being flooded by kids with Covid. A Nov. 21 story in Scientific American claims that children younger than 4 years old have “among the highest rates” of Covid hospital admissions because their parents haven’t gotten them vaccinated.
It’s true that hospitalization rates for young children are currently higher than for adolescents and young adults, but they are significantly lower than for seniors. Yet infants are predominantly being hospitalized—not toddlers—and many are also infected with other, more-dangerous respiratory viruses. Infants younger than six months aren’t eligible for Covid vaccines anyway.
Infant hospitalizations for RSV, a common-cold virus that can impair babies’ ability to breathe, are currently seven to nine times higher than for Covid. For toddlers, it’s 17 times higher. The Food and Drug Administration in July approved a monoclonal antibody by AstraZeneca and Sanofi that prevents severe RSV infections in infants. --->READ MORE HERE
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Why aren't kids going to school? COVID taught them some bad habits:
COVID-19 learning loss is an enormous problem, and catching students up at scale increasingly looks impossible. A recent national study found that third through eighth grade students were more than four months behind academically and that last school year most learned at a slower pace than their pre-pandemic peers.
The most likely fixes aren’t getting enough traction. High-intensity tutoring programs might work, but so far, not enough students are participating. Extra learning time could help, but most schools have proved unable or unwilling to add significant time to their calendars.
But even if such fixes could get enough traction, one thing is clear: Novel efforts to add extra learning opportunities don’t stand a chance if kids are not consistently attending school in the first place. On this foundational aspect of school culture, new data show that far too many students are falling short.
Nationwide, chronic absenteeism − the percentage of students missing at least 10% of a school year − surged from 15% in 2018 to 29% last year. The scale of this change is hard to comprehend, and shocking. In 2018, 3 in 4 students attended school districts with chronic absenteeism below 19%, but by last year fewer than 1 in 4 did.
COVID-19 learning loss was most severe for disadvantaged students, and so too is chronic absenteeism. Nationwide district-level data from the American Enterprise Institute’s Return to Learn Tracker, which I run, shows that in the highest-achieving third of school districts, chronic absenteeism increased 10 points − from 10% to 20% − between 2018 and 2022, but for the lowest-achieving third of districts, chronic absenteeism increased 17 points − from 19% to 36%.
Similar gaps were found between high- and low-poverty districts, meaning that in low-achieving and in high-poverty districts, more than a third of students missed nearly a month of school.
This is not a recipe for overcoming learning loss, for students or for schools. It should go without saying that students won’t learn as much if they miss too much school, but the problem runs deeper than that. When large numbers of students are chronically absent, the pace of classroom instruction slows for everyone. Teachers spend time covering old material instead of presenting new content, and their time and attention are diverted from students with more consistent attendance. --->READ MORE HERE
Follow links below to relevant/related stories and resources:

COVID-19 Anxieties Tied to Chronic Absenteeism in Schools in Dallas and Beyond

The Top COVID-19 Hot Spots in the U.S.

USA TODAY: Coronavirus Updates

WSJ: Coronavirus Live Updates

YAHOO NEWS: Coronavirus Live Updates

NEW YORK POST: Coronavirus The Latest

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