New coronavirus cases are emerging at schools. How much you know depends on where you live

As children and teachers started returning to classrooms over the past few weeks, new cases of COVID-19 emerged, forcing some schools to temporarily shift to online-learning only and hundreds of students to quarantine at home until their health was assured.

While those developments have been well-documented, it’s what remains unknown that has been more troubling for some parents and educators.

Information that schools, health officials and state agencies share about known cases varies substantially, leaving some stakeholders to wonder how safe they or their children may be when new cases emerge. 

In Gainesville, Florida, where several staff members working at an in-person summer program contracted coronavirus, the absence of a communitywide notification protocol allowed rumors and fear to spread. Despite assurances from district officials that they will share as much information as they can about cases this fall, some parents and teachers remain skeptical that they will learn enough, soon

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Why schools may be ‘a setup for disaster’

People wear protective face masks in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
People wear protective face masks in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

Cases of COVID-19 are “steadily increasing” in children, according to new guidance for health care workers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The guidance, which was updated on the CDC’s website on Friday, says that children now make up more than 7 percent of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. At the same time, children make up about 22 percent of the U.S. population, the CDC notes. The number of cases has been “steadily increasing” from March to July, the guidance says.

However, the CDC warns that the actual number of children infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, could be higher. “The true incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in children is not known due to lack of widespread testing and the prioritization of testing for adults and those with severe illness,”

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L.A. schools announce massive COVID-19 testing, tracing initiative for all students, staff

Los Angeles Unified School District staff member Adrian Pacheco demonstrates the use of sanitizing tools as Supt. Austin Beutner takes a tour of Burbank Middle School. As the academic school year looms, preparations have been under way to make campuses safe. <span class="copyright">(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)</span>
Los Angeles Unified School District staff member Adrian Pacheco demonstrates the use of sanitizing tools as Supt. Austin Beutner takes a tour of Burbank Middle School. As the academic school year looms, preparations have been under way to make campuses safe. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles Unified School District on Sunday said it was launching an ambitious coronavirus testing and contact tracing program for all students and staff aiming to create a path to safely reopening campuses in the nation’s second-largest school district.

If the plan comes to fruition as described, it would be one of the most extensive to date for an American school district. It remains unclear, however, how quickly it would be implemented and when in-person learning could resume.

L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner outlined the plan in an opinion article in the Los Angeles Times published Sunday, saying “the goal is to get students

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Why Weighing Kids In Schools Is So Problematic

This week on Twitter, a heated debate began after the U.K.-based National Obesity Forum suggested that children should be weighed in schools come September and again in the spring. The intention: to track weight gained during lockdown due to the pandemic. Advocates argued that it’s important to track kids’ weight, and how COVID-19 has affected it. They say that the info could be used to implement health-promoting interventions. But the proposal was met with swift backlash from people who emphasized that the practice would likely do more harm than good.

“When I was 10, we were forced to weigh ourselves at school and then share with the class. I still haven’t recovered from the things they said,” one Twitter user wrote.  

Actress Jameela Jamil commented: “Hard pass. Being weighed at school was truly the minute my eating disorder started at 12. I can trace it back to

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Elizabeth Schools To Reopen Online Only

ELIZABETH, NJ — The Elizabeth School District has voted to begin school in September with 100 percent remote learning, citing health and safety reasons.

“I have over 375 teachers who have painstakingly communicated with me their passion for education and their fear of this dreadful virus,” said Elizabeth Superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer at the Monday night meeting. “We are in a position where we need to support everyone in our organization. We need to do what is right for our children. We need to do what is right for our team members. We need to make the right decision until it is safe to return to schools.”

Due to teachers not wanting to return to school and other factors, in-person instruction will be severely impacted, Hugelmeyer said.

A survey sent to parents also found that 59 percent of parents said they would not send their children to school in September while

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Karavel Shoes Donates 3D Face Masks to Schools, Famous Footwear and Coach Make Big Donations + More

Aug. 11, 2020: Fashion-comfort retailer Karavel Shoes in Austin, Texas, is doing its part in the prevention of the spread of COVID-19. The family-owned business is in the process of printing 1,200 3D face shields to be donated to staff working in 15 schools located in low-income neighborhoods in Austin. The store also hired three high school students to work on the project. In addition, said Karavel owner Rick Ravel, the store will be selling additional masks to consumers with all proceeds from their sale donated to the Central Texas Food Bank.

Aug. 11, 2020: Famous Footwear has announced a new multiyear partnership with Ticket to Dream, which provides opportunities for foster children across the country. As part of the move, the brand is donating more than 12,000 new pairs of shoes this month to foster kids ahead of the back-to-school season and plans to provide supplies throughout the fall.

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COVID-19 pandemic puts future of Catholics schools in doubt

As the new academic year arrives, school systems across the United States are struggling to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Roman Catholic educators have an extra challenge — trying to forestall a relentless wave of closures of their schools that has no end in sight.

Already this year, financial and enrollment problems aggravated by the pandemic have forced the permanent closure of more than 140 Catholic schools nationwide, according to officials who oversee Catholic education in the country.

Three of the nation’s highest-ranking Catholic leaders, in a recent joint appeal, said Catholic schools “are presently facing their greatest financial crisis” and warned that hundreds more closures are likely without federal support.

“Because of economic loss and uncertainty, many families are confronting the wrenching decision to pull their children out of Catholic schools,” said New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley and Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, president of

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How Schools Missed a Chance to Fix Remote Learning

The Clinton Hill School in New York, July 22, 2020. (Mark Wickens/The New York Times)
The Clinton Hill School in New York, July 22, 2020. (Mark Wickens/The New York Times)

With some combination of optimism, anxiety and wishful thinking, many educators spent their summers planning, in minute detail, how to safely reopen classrooms. Teachers stocked up on sanitation supplies as superintendents took a crash course in epidemiology and studied supply chain logistics for portable air filters.

But with the pandemic now surging across a wide swath of the country, many of those plans have been shelved, and a different reality has emerged for the nation’s exhausted and stir-crazy families: Millions of American children will spend their fall once again learning in front of laptop screens.

In places where schools haven’t already reopened — in some, to just as quickly close again — educators are spending the little time they have left before the new academic year moving to focus more fully on improving online instruction,

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Florida health directors reportedly told not to say whether schools should reopen

County health directors in Florida have reportedly been told not to provide a recommendation about whether schools should reopen during the coronavirus pandemic.

Florida state officials “instructed county directors to focus their advice to school boards on how best to reopen,” but the health directors have been told “not to make a recommendation” about whether to actually reopen at all, The Palm Beach Post reports. This is despite the fact that an edict from Florida Education Commission Richard Corcoran instructed schools seeking to not reopen to receive a wavier from health officials.

“We’ve been advised that our role here is to just advise as to what can we do to make the environment in schools as safe as possible with COVID-19,” one health director, Patricia Boswell, reportedly said at a school board meeting. “It is not to make a decision on whether or not to open the school.”

Former health

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Here’s how parents can protect their kids from coronavirus as schools reopen

Get ready to pack your back-to-school pencils, binders and … hand sanitizer?

While some schools and universities are opting for remote learning or a hybrid of in-person and online sessions, others are pushing ahead with in-person classes – with proper sanitation protocols, of course. Social distancing markings, COVID program coordinators and smaller class sizes are only a few of the reflections of the pandemic-era classroom experience.

But still, parents may be (reasonably) worried about this transition. Although schools will follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines to ensure safety for children, it’s always a good idea to reinforce these standards from home as well.

So what can you do, other than clipping a mini-bottle of hand sanitizer to every backpack? USA TODAY asked two health experts for advice on how parents can keep their students safe and healthy as they prepare for in-person classes. 

New clothes and senior

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