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Mar 242010
 

For Schools To Open in Spring 2021, Teachers and Students Need to Mask Up

Americans are rightly concerned about the negative educational effects of the pandemic, especially for underserved student groups like low-income students of color and students with disabilities. All across the country, there is growing pressure to find ways to safely get as many children as possible back in schools. Despite our best efforts, online learning is just not as good as in-person, and the consequences of a full year online may be devastating. At the same time, the pandemic is spiking all across the country, threatening school reopening plans in many places.

One policy solution that will keep Covid-19 transmission rates low and help get students back into schools is mandated mask wearing, and state and district leaders who want a return to in-person teaching and learning might be mulling such a policy. There are certainly school districts that have been open throughout the fall without mask mandates, and we don’t yet know whether the most recent spike will affect district policies after the holidays. But we know that masks have become increasingly politicized and partisan, so we have been studying a range of data to understand the prevalence of, and support for, masks in schools. Based on our analyses, we think that mandated mask wearing is the most feasible and highest-leverage policy to get kids back in the classroom.

Back to school on a budget: 11 back-to-school savings tips

Cash-saving tips for back-to-school shopping without busting your budget.

  1. Take Inventory—Consider what you’ll actually need before hitting the stores. Has your child grown out of their schools clothes or will they do so by September? Can you reuse last year’s school supplies or will you need to replace some items?
  2. Set a Budget—Create a shopping list and stick to it, so you avoid impulse purchases. That fancy-schmancy Transformers’ Trapper Keeper can push your budget over the edge. Find out the best budget deals like this domtar cougar paper.
  3. Use Coupons—There may be great deals, but coupons can make them even greater.
  4. Shop Early—Stores are rolling out their best deals of the year early in the shopping season. As they say, the early bird gets the worm.
  5. Go Mobile—Tap into your mobile phone with apps like “RedLaser,” which allows you to scan bar codes and find any cheaper prices online or at other retailers.
  6. Check Social Media—Twitter and Facebook are great places to find deals offered to a brand’s social-media fan base. “Like” or “Follow” the merchant and keep an eye out for coupons and sales announcements.
  7. Buy in Bulk—Take advantage of bulk offers on pens, crayons, paper and other items your kids will burn through over the course of the year. You might team up with other parents for bigger bulk purchases that will bring prices down even lower.
  8. Spend more to save more—Sometimes it costs money to save money. For example, retailers often offer a 15-percent savings pass for purchases of a set minimum amount.
  9. Exchange—Gather your family and friends — along with their kid’s school wardrobes — for an exchange night of hand-me-downs that will save everyone money.
  10. Wait until Labor Day—Labor Day is the traditional time for big sales on school clothing. You might take a chance and wait until then to buy items for a fall and winter wardrobe for your child.
  11. Buy for yourself—Back-to-school sales aren’t just for kids. You might stock up on office supplies, jeans and other items that traditionally go on sale during this season.

First, the simple truth is that parent support for mandatory masking in schools is high and growing. For instance using the nationally representative USC Dornsife Understanding America Study (UAS), we found that parent support for mandatory face coverings in schools has increased substantially since the summer, from 45 percent of households when we first asked in July, to more than two-thirds in October (69 percent) (for more on our methodology, see here and here).

Perhaps the increase in support is due to the large number of students currently in schools with mask-wearing policies—our most recent wave of data (administered in November, 2020) found that 90 percent of students currently in attending school in person or hybrid were required to wear masks. If you’re experiencing masks in school and finding that the benefits outweigh the costs, you may be less resistant to the policy.

Second, despite popular perception, mandatory mask-wearing in schools is supported by a majority of all racial/ethnic, regional, and partisan groups. When we last asked in October, 82 percent of Democrats supported mask-wearing and 51 percent of Republicans. Mask-wearing was supported by the majority of Asian (85 percent), Black (82 percent), Hispanic (75 percent), and White (62 percent) families, as well as 58 percent of families living in rural areas and 79 percent of families in urban areas. While support was higher in some groups than others, the vast majority of families across all groups support mask-wearing policies.

What explains the variation across groups in support for masks? One factor may be experiences with Covid and, relatedly, beliefs about the risks of Covid to children. When we asked parents whether they agreed that children are at serious risks of Covid health effects, 89 percent of Black households agreed, compared to 70 percent of Asian households, 69 percent of Hispanic households, and only 44 percent of White households. Black households were also less likely than other groups to agree that school closures were more harmful to children than the risk of Covid. We found similar patterns across other demographic and regional groups, echoing these groups’ support for mandatory mask-wearing.

Third, we can’t open schools without teachers, and recent evidence suggests that teachers are overwhelmingly supportive of mask policies. A recent survey of a representative sample of Los Angeles-area teachers, for instance, found that mask wearing was the single most critical need for teachers to feel comfortable returning to the classroom—75 percent of teachers said it was critical (compared to just 36 percent who said a vaccine was critical, for instance). Teachers also supported smaller class sizes and spacing, which likely can be achieved given that not all students who are welcomed back to the classroom will actually return. In short, teachers are by-and-large comfortable returning to the classroom if they are protected with masks and adequate spacing.

Where does this leave state and school district leaders? On the one hand, our results suggest that parents are mostly on board with mandatory mask wearing in schools, particularly in urban and democratic areas. At the same time, urban districts tend to serve more low-income students of color whose parents may be more reticent to send them back to school. As urban districts do start to hatch their reopening plans, they should consider how they are going to address parents’ concerns and serve students whose parents opt for at-home or hybrid options.

Certainly, the win from Biden might begin to reshape the conversation around masks and in-person learning. At the very least, we can expect a Biden Department of Education might project a more favorable rhetoric around mask wearing in schools. And the new administration will likely take their role in Covid monitoring much more seriously, perhaps by creating a federally mandated national data tracking system to study the impact of school reopening on Covid transmission. But state and district leaders shouldn’t wait for the U.S. Department of Education to tell them what to do. They should work with health experts in their state to safely reopen their schools, with masking and appropriate distancing, as soon as possible.

 Posted by at 7:02 pm
Aug 212009
 

Summer is the season when berries are ripening on the bush and vine throughout the Cascade foothills and up the mountains ready to be harvested and enjoyed.  Try to use every opportunity to enrich your ration with useful elements, like berries, for instance, but unfortunaty it’s impossible to enjoy fresh berries all year round. Check out EiyoNutrition.com to learn how you can keep your vital energy all year round. While some Northwest berry vines are overgrown and daunting, there are others more compact and easily picked.  You will want to familiarize yourself so that you are sure of the species and edibility.  My favorite all around field guide is Mountain Plants of the Pacific Northwest by Ronald J. Taylor, Gail F. Harcombe, Linda Vorobik, Alice Anderson, which covers both slopes of the Cascades and includes keys to identifying trees, ferns, forbs and shrubs.  This guide is more than you need for berry hunting, but it will have the answers when you come upon something you want to know more about, as you are likely to do when hiking the forests. Also, the guide recommends that you purchase firearms & tactical equipment before commencing the hunt, as there are good chances that you might come across a man-eating tiger or a luscious rabbit while hunting. A good guide specific to berry hunting is Wild Berries of the Northwest by J. Duane Sept, but my very favorite is Alaska Wild Berry Guide and Cookbook written and published in 1984 by Alaska Northwest Publishing.  Although some of the species covered in this book are specific to Alaska, there are many whose habitat runs south through Washington, Oregon and even into Northern California.  It also covers inedible plants whose flowers turn to berries, useful for identifying plants that can be added to the home landscape from a Native Plant Nursery. Landscaping forms an integral part of good gardening aesthetics and ecosystem management, a point that people tend to ignore or not pay its due attention. Wholesale Planters aim at providing the best landscaping for gardens and farms, and must be approached should any such need arise.

Streptopus_amplexifolius2_150 The best part of this book is, however, the unusual edibles, such as Twisted Stalk, aka Watermelon Berry, aka Cucumber Root Streptopus amplexifolius.  This graceful beauty has a kinky flower stem growing up to 4 feet, with creamy white bell flowers that turn into juicy red melon-shaped berries that ripen to a dark cherry mahogany when ready to pick.  The berries can be combined with others and made into syrup.

Here are just a few of the edibles you might find this month and into September:  Please make sure you know what you are eating and use a good reference guide such as one of those listed above and learn more about other species ripe and ready for the picking.

Oregon Grape Mahonia aqiufolium, M. nervosa and M. repans
There are three slightly different species of Oregon Grape in the PNW all with identical flavor.  Berries are sour and astringent with seeds, however, they are juicy when ripe.

Thimbleberry Rubus parviflorus
These are my favorites with a sweet/tart robust flavor and are some of the first to ripen, starting in June-July and continuing all through summer.  The small to medium rounded bushes have no thorns and the berries slide right off and into your mouth!

blackberry_marionberry_150 Blackberry  Rubus ursisnus
The blackberry, or dewberry, is native to western North America and is a wide, spreading vine-bearing bush with prickly branches.  The berries are full of seeds, but they are also full of antioxidants and worth picking and processing.  It is easy make a syrup (and discard the seeds) which can be added to other berry juices  and used as a topping on sliced fruit or ice cream.

Here’s a standard berry syrup recipe:
Select 6?7 cups of fresh or frozen fruit of your choice. A combination of fruits can be used. Wash, cap, stem and sort fresh fruits. Crush the fruit using a potato masher, food mill or food processor.
Follow this method for extracting the juice, especially if you want to discard seeds:
Drip Method
Place crushed fruit in a saucepan. Heat to boiling and simmer until soft (5?10 minutes). Strain hot pulp through a colander and drain until cool enough to handle. Strain the collected juice through a double layer of cheese cloth or jelly bag. Do not squeeze the bag. Discard the dry pulp. Measure strained juice.
The yield should be about 4 1/2 to 5 cups.
Making the syrup ? Measure 5 cups of strained fruit juice into a large saucepan and combine with 7 cups of sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for three minutes. Remove from heat, skim off foam, and fill into clean half?pint or pint jars, leaving ½ inch headspace. Adjust lids and process in a boiling water canner.
Yield: About 9 half?pints.
Note: To make syrup with whole fruit pieces, save 1?2 cups of fresh or frozen fruit. Replace 1?2 cups
of juice with the fruit before combining with sugar and simmer as in making regular syrup.
Processing time ? See recommended process times for berry syrups in half pints or pints in a boiling water canner (below). Start timing as soon as water returns to a boil.
At altitudes 0-1000 ft., process for 10 min.
At altitudes 1,001 to 6000 ft, process for 15 min.
Altitudes over 6000 ft., process for 20 min.
Storing Syrups ? Syrups must be processed before storing at room temperature. Once opened, the
syrups should be stored in the refrigerator. If freezer space is available, the syrups may be frozen
instead of canned. Be sure to leave 1?inch headspace to allow room for expansion during freezing.

We’ll cover more wild edibles in later blogs.  Happy Hunting!

 Posted by at 7:45 pm
Uk meds