Thursday, January 6, 2022

Deceptive messaging and multiple gaps in the level of protection from Covid that the DOE is providing students -- but why?

Update 1/7/2022:  Jill Jorgensen did an excellent story last night on NY1 explaining this bizarre formula the DOE is using to determine ho many students to test at each school- the first reporter to do so, to my knowledge. She found that of at 60 of randomly selected 250 schools, fewer than 5% of all students were tested. Check it out.  In the segment, DOE falsely claims that "Our surveillance testing program is the largest in the nation." Of course, NYC is the largest district in the nation.  But they are clearly not testing the most students in any case.  Los Angeles schools tests every student and every teacher each week --over 660,000 kids & over 26,000 teachers. See also this letter to the Mayor, from State Legislators and Council Members, asking for a two week remote option, to allow for improved safety protocols to slow the spread of Covid.

I try to study the health and safety protocols being used in schools, and yet only last night did I realize that the much vaunted doubling of in-school random PCR Covid testing that DOE claimed would start after the holiday break does not really meant what it seems. 

Despite the fact that the NY Times reported that the DOE "plans to ramp up testing from 10 percent of consenting students in each school each week to 20 percent", actually that 20 percent rule only applies to the number of unvaccinated students in each school.  

For example, if a school has 300 students, and 250 are vaccinated, the DOE will only test 10 students  (20% of 50) per week of the total pool of vaccinated and unvaccinated kids who have consented .  This was confirmed by a tweet from Alex Zimmerman of Chalkbeat.

Yet I cannot find this reported nowhere in the media or on the DOE's website. If you can find this explained anywhere, please leave the link in the comment box below. [No longer true; see update above.]

Even some pretty well-informed parents were not aware of this either, like Debra Wexler, who used to work at DOE as a press officer and now works at the Carnegie Foundation; see her tweet below.

This also means that as more students are vaccinated, there is less and less testing each week - which seems counterproductive.

This, along with the low percentage of students who have consented in some schools, means very limited numbers of kids are being  tested each week; in some schools, only a handful. See this from teacher Sara Allen :

 And yet even with the low rate of testing, Covid is so rampant that many schools are  reporting that they are running out of the test kits that kids who are exposed are supposed to receive, and have had to cut back:

According to the DOE "plan", if students are exposed in school, each one is supposed to receive two rapid antigen tests, and then take one test on the first day and the other on the fifth day, to see if they are infected. 

Yet as this Stat article explains, even if someone tests negative on, they may be actually positive and able to transmit the infection to others . If exposed and possibly infected students are getting only one test now because of shortages, what does that mean? 

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, all students had to test negative before starting school after the holiday break, and as before, all students and staff will continue to be tested weekly, with no opt in or opt out allowed.  In New Orleans, all students must be vaccinated by February 1. Why NYC is unable to provide the same level of protection to its students is beyond me. 

And students unlike teachers are not being provided with high quality masks. See how important high quality masks are (from the Wall Street Journal):

This in the wealthiest city in the world, where the Covid positivity rate as of yesterday was 34.8% . The state as a whole now has the highest rate in the country; and if it were a nation, it would have the second highest rate in the world.

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