July 10, 2020

Hey Friends!

Yes, it is definitely summer here in the low country. The peaches are huge and sweet, and it’s 97 degrees in the shade with the heat index with the afternoon thunderstorm rolling in on cue. I see therapeutic summer cooking in my weekend future, peach cobbler and a gumbo recipe I have been working on since 1996. I know many of you have been on a good break and are either starting to dip your toes back in, or are really misbehaving and you have been sitting at your computer while everyone else has tried to check out. Heavy the head… I get it … but do take a break when you can.

Let’s start with the topic that has caught the attention of so many… Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sent a message out to all SEVIS users about tweaks to the F-1 student visa program. In short, if international students are in the US on an F-1 visa, they can take more online hours than they usually might, but they better have some face to face learning going on as well. We are hosting a discussion on this topic on Tuesday at 4:00. Please feel free to jump in or send the appropriate person from your team. If this doesn’t apply to you, be happy. Harvard, MIT, and the state of CA are already suing on this front, and statements are being posted from a variety of sources.

Lots of COVID news and good guidance has been rolling out lately.

  • For those worried that this Franken-virus is not giving enough fodder to the annals of medicine, recent reports of potential long-term and occasionally fatal brain disorders should put that concern to rest.
  • Mass General in Boston put out this compendium, which no fewer than five of you sent to me, so it has clearly been helpful to some of your colleagues. I really like that it pulls together a variety of true studies on things like susceptibility of children to COVID-19 and their mental health and wellness during school closures, but does not shy away from scintillating topics like ventilation. In short, lots of good, solid, data and research here, and likely very useful if you have parents or board members asking about the science behind your decision-making.
  • This one from the Harvard School of Public Health is very direct and user friendly, with lots of lists and diagrams and speaks very directly to buildings and ventilation. I highly recommend it, and then I would point out that Harvard is still skeptical enough not to try it with its entire student body.
  • Teacher page
  • The CDC has also not been letting too much time slip away. It released testing insights for k-12 administrators and FAQs for teachers, parents, and administrators. Apparently, we might see earlier CDC guidance tweaked to less stringent recommendations before too long as well, or we might not.  
  • TX released some good, maybe final, guidance this week.
  • People are starting to think about vaccines and what mandating them might look like. If you are on this path, even for the flu shot this fall, this recorded webinar might help.
  • The Knight Commission released a statement that seemed to prioritize thinking for college presidents around consideration of moving ahead with sports.
  • Nashville made a very clear announcement this week that it would not be fully physically open until after Labor Day looking at the numbers at this time. Palm Beach also declared it would start online. Keep an eye on your county and state as these announcements will start coming fairly quickly in the next couple of weeks.
  • Need more on hands-on virus risk management? Chris Joffe did a great webinar for us and there were some fabulous resources mentioned there, too.

Want to get away from the depths of COVID?

  • A lot of folks are speculating about college admissions without standardized testing. This article from EdSurge looking at the potential for algorithms in admissions is being spread around.
  • And, you know I love a good “be wary” article or story, and this one on the Cobra Effect: Lessons of Unintended Consequences fit the bill this week. Seriously, it will get you thinking.  
  • Feeling a little dark? The Atlantic can tell you about why our minds just are not equipped for this kind of reopening. I knew we were all bad at managing risk, but this did nothing to shore up my concerns about where this train is headed.
  • And, you might want to check out this page. ASU/GSV is a partnership between Arizona State and a venture capital group that brings together pretty incredible speakers. This page has recordings of their sessions with big thinkers around key topics of our time.

Finally, I wanted to focus on why we are going through all of these crazy machinations. We actually want to educate children and help them fulfill their potential. Along those lines, SAIS has a new teacher page that we will be adding to periodically, and we welcome suggested resources. We also have some great education focused webinars coming up, including ones for new teachers. Oh, and if you need some thoughts on what kinds of habits of mind we might want to build upon, David Brooks went down that path last week. The Christensen Institute was a bit more upbeat and focused on one of my favorites – student agency. Also, if you are looking for events outside of your school for kids to engage in, this series from the National Network of School Partnerships (NNSP) is a good one to check out.

On a light closing note, the Far Side has been one of my favorite cartoons for as long as I can remember. Gary Larson is warming up and starting to release new cartoons.

Have a great weekend everyone… stay safe out there and let me know if you want to roll through Mount Pleasant for a container of gumbo (to go).

Debra