A crowded student party “that included alcohol and utter lack of security” urged Lincoln-Sudbury High School outside Boston to return to distance learning for the first two weeks of school, a letter from the superintendent said. And Pelham High School in Westchester, New York, has also expanded online learning after two consecutive nights of students partying in the woods, the school district said.
However, student social life is not the only cause for concern. The President of the United Federation of Teachers said Monday that New York City “is not getting the grade”
Michael Mulgrew cited insufficient staff and a two to three day delay in test results as major obstacles.
“If you asked me if we are ready to open today, I would say we are not,” he said.
In public schools in New York City, at least 422,190 students have applied for the completely removed fall learning option – just over 40% of the more than 1 million students enrolled in the largest public school system – according to the city’s Department of Education.
According to the department, around 58% of the students plan to return to school buildings as part of a hybrid learning model from next week.
Parents in the New York City public school system have been able to opt out of the personal hybrid plan since it was first announced. In August, Mayor Bill de Blasio said 74% of families had planned to participate in face-to-face learning by that time.
The schools plan a safe reopening in advance
With multiple schools making last minute changes to their plans in response to parties, others are implementing systems in advance to respond to changes in the virus.
Kentucky officials on Monday outlined a color-coded system that individual districts can use each week to determine whether to proceed with face-to-face learning based on coronavirus levels in their area.
“If you are in the red, it means that COVID-19 is rife in the community. If you are in the red, it is not responsible – it is not responsible – to learn personally every day.” Governor Andy Beshear said.
And while students at the Los Angeles Unified School District are still studying remotely, a “testimony” will list the number of cases in each school as part of the district’s testing and tracing efforts, Superintendent Austin Beutner said Monday.
To address childcare concerns, around 3,000 children from key workers in groups of six will be able to return to school after being tested for the virus, Beutner said.
States taking action against large assemblies
Some states are doing their part to contain the spread and limit the number of fall and winter infections by cracking down on large gatherings.
Officials from New York City Parks and New York University patrol Washington Square Park, encouraging the use of personal protective equipment after two consecutive weekends of parties with NYU students.
After the weekend’s first meeting, Governor Andrew Cuomo criticized the city police and university officials for failing to take more determined action to stop the parties.
“As a precaution, we are also testing all residents of Rubin Hall (and also the employees) again and instructing them on Saturday to start quarantine by at least Tuesday evening,” said the university.
According to the school’s coronavirus dashboard, NYU has reported a total of 65 cases since Aug. 1 – an overall positive rate of 0.19%. The school has reported 48 cases in the past 14 days, giving a positivity rate of 0.31%.
With a possible fall and winter resurgence, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is appealing a federal court ruling preventing the state from banning certain types of large gatherings. The state has taken action against indoor gatherings of more than 25 people and outdoor events of more than 250 people in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The action is being used by many US governors, said Wolf’s press secretary Lyndsay Kensinger, and “will continue to save lives if federal measures are not taken”.
Connecticut has also enacted ordinances to ban large gatherings and require face masks in coronavirus-era time, but now law enforcement will have the power to impose fines to enforce them, Governor Ned Lamont announced on Monday.
Anyone who does not wear a mask could be fined $ 100. Large gathering organizers can be fined $ 500, while attendees can be fined $ 250, Lamont said.
Infection rates for children and young adults are increasing
As young populations raise concerns as a potential vehicle for the virus to spread, they become increasingly infected.
In Pennsylvania, the rate of infection among 19- to 24-year-olds has increased an average of 19% since April, said state health secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, during a press conference on Monday.
One of the biggest differences that could explain the jump is the increased congregation that comes with returning to school, Levine said. She asked students to continue washing their hands, wearing masks, avoiding the crowds, and distance themselves.
“We are all interconnected. We are all interdependent,” said Levine. “We all have a collective responsibility to prevent the spread.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, nearly 550,000 children have been diagnosed with coronavirus since the pandemic began. There has been a 15% increase in child cases in the past two weeks, the group said in a weekly report, although it appears that serious illness from the virus is still rare.
CNN’s Elizabeth Joseph, Elizabeth Hartfield, Anna Sturla, Laura Ly, Jen Christensen and Stella Chan contributed to this report.