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New Research Shows Gap Between Remote and In-Person High School Students Post-Pandemic

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(Hibault Savary/AFP/Getty Images)

A new study published Wednesday shows the combined impact of academic, social and emotional learning loss in high school students who learned remotely compared to students who learned in-person last year.

What We Know:

  • The study, entitled “Students Attending School Remotely Suffer Socially, Emotionally, and Academically”, was published in Educational Researcher, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association. In the study, they coin the term “thriving gap” to refer to the negative repercussions that were nearly universal among remote learners. While many news sources have reported individual stories concerning mental health challenges students have faced, this is the first study that’s been able to display widespread evidence.
  • Angela Duckworth, professor at the University of Pennsylvania and founder and CEO of Character Lab, was the lead author of the study. She said, “This study gives some of the first empirical evidence of how learning remotely has affected adolescent well-being.” The evidence in the study was gathered through an ongoing partnership with Orange County Public Schools, a large and demographically diverse public school district in Florida. The authors had distributed a survey called the Character Lab Student Thriving Index in February 2020 before the pandemic shut down schools. 6,500 students were asked about their current social, emotional, and academic experiences.
  • Later, months into the shutdown, families in the district were offered the option for their kids to return to school either remotely or in person. Two-thirds of the students went remote and one-third returned to in-person. All of them completed the same index in October of 2020. Results showed remote students suffered socially, emotionally, and academically in comparison to their in-person counterparts. Though the impacts were not large in magnitude, the fact that they span gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status means they affect millions of students.
  • The CDC’s recommendations for school re-openings emphasize the importance of in-person learning for students, but Duckworth says it’s more than just academics. She went on to say, “As policymakers gear up for national tutoring and remediation programs, which we agree are urgent priorities, we must recognize that our nation’s students are not just lagging in performances, they are suffering as people. Meeting their intrinsic psychological needs — for social connection, for positive emotion, and authentic intellectual engagement — is a challenge that cannot wait.”

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona is pushing for all students to return to the classroom this upcoming school year. He said in a statement, “Students learn best in the classroom. I think they’ve suffered enough through the pandemic. It’s on us now to make sure we are doing what we need to do to make sure we’re getting them safely in the classroom.”

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Coronavirus

Biden Calls Out DeSantis’ Refusal on Mask Mandates

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President Joe Biden told reporters that Governors Ron DeSantis’s decisions against mask mandates would eventually have results that will affect constituents.

What We Know:

  • Biden’s message comes after DeSantis declared he would not impose mask mandates in Florida. DeSantis also said he would withhold funds from any schools that attempt to place guidelines on wearing masks. Currently, Florida faces a severe spike in cases due to the Delta variant and lower vaccination rates.
  • Because of this, Biden gave his stern commandment. The President stated the country needs leadership from everyone, and if some governors do not want “to do the right thing” to beat the pandemic, they should allow businesses and universities to do so. Pres. Biden further reminded the governors that they hold the power to save lives.

 “But if you are not going to help, at least get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing,” said Biden.

  • DeSantis believes the spike in cases is just a pattern, similar to those seen last year despite the President’s pleas. In addition, the Florida governor downplayed the state’s surge in hospitalizations; according to DeSantis, COVID patients only “represent a fraction of the overall hospital beds.”
  • Furthermore, DeSantis responded to Biden’s comments at an August 4th press conference. He claimed the President was singling out Florida over the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, DeSantis stated Biden did not live up to his promise to end the virus’ spread, as he allows the United States to have a “wide open southern border.” DeSantis stated that until Pres. Biden secures the border, he wishes not to hear anything about COVID from him.

On August 5th, Florida saw 20,133 new COVID-19 cases. On July 31, the state recorded 21,683 cases, the highest number since the pandemic’s beginning; August 5th’s results were only 1,550 test results lower.

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Coronavirus

Disneyland and Disney World to Require Masks Indoors Again Regardless of Vaccination Status

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The new policy follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)‘s recommendation that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors as COVID-19 cases skyrocket in places such as California and Florida.

What We Know:

  • As of July 30, the Walt Disney Company requires all park visitors, regardless of vaccination status, to wear face-coverings indoors at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Resort in California. The only guests who are exempt from these rules are children under the age of two.
  • On July 27, Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings declared a local state of emergency due to a spike in coronavirus cases; according to Demings’ executive order, the county in which Disney World is located saw the 14-day rolling positivity rate go over 15%. Orange County also saw a new record of 1,371 cases, the highest number since the pandemic’s beginning, a day prior to the mayor’s announcement.
  • The CDC further ruled Orange County an area with high transmission levels; officials added that the virus “continues to pose a public health threat.” In addition, Anaheim, the location for Disneyland, is facing “substantial” levels of community transmission. On the week of July 30, the city saw a seven-day positivity rate of 6.33%.
  • The influx in cases comes as the Delta variant runs rampant across the country. Currently, the more contagious version of the virus accounts for approximately 83% of cases in the U.S. The more frequent occurrences of COVID-19 also stem from the fact that vaccination rates have slowed down significantly. Disney Parks might continue to enact these mandates until cases stabilize once more.

Last March, the Walt Disney Company closed down all of its parks worldwide as the world dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic. Walt Disney World in Florida became the first U.S. park to reopen in July 2020. Disneyland opened its gates nine months after Disney World in April 2021.

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Coronavirus

Florida Breaks Record for COVID-19 Hospitalizations

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Florida recently saw 10,207 hospitalizations caused by coronavirus cases, the highest number since July 23, 2020.

What We Know:

  • On July 23, 2020, Florida reached a high of 10,170 hospitalizations, just six months before the COVID-19 vaccine became available. The new record makes Florida the leader in per capita hospitalizations for the virus.
  • Most of the new cases come from the highly contagious Delta variant. On average, Florida sees 1,525 adult and 35 children hospitalizations daily. In addition, Saturday revealed a peak in positive numbers, as the stated reported  21,683 occurrences of COVID-19. The day prior, the Sunshine State saw 17,093 cases.
  • Many hospital employees believed the excess hospitalizations would end soon because of an increase in vaccinations. However, the Delta variant changed all this. The Associated Press wrote that several hospitals, including the Mayo Clinic Florida and the UF Health North emergency room, needed to operate overcapacity and put beds in hallways to treat patients; the Mayo Clinic will continue to do so until the current surge ends. In Tampa, some local ambulances already needed to divert ambulances to other locations because of capacity concerns.
  • The higher numbers also are a direct result of a loosening of restrictions and a governor’s stubbornness. Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis actively declares he will not enact any more mask mandates and vaccine requirements. Along with the state Legislature, this makes it difficult for local officials to impose restrictions that will ease the positive numbers.
  • Medical officials scorned DeSantis for his adamance on the issue. Dr. Bernard Ashby, a Miami-based vascular cardiologist and Florida State Lead for the Committee to Protect Health Care, commented that the state would not be in its position now if DeSantis focused more on lowering cases than proving Dr. Anthony Fauci wrong. Gainesville infectious disease expert Dr. Frederick Southwick agreed with Ashby’s statement, saying that DeSantis needed to stop acting like “Florida won the pandemic.”

DeSantis recently announced that Florida would resist any federal authorities’ campaigns to enforce mask mandates inside schools despite the criticism.

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