Representative Dooley June 25th COVID-19 Update

Very busy day today with non stop zoom/google/conference calls and I have a 6+ hour hearing scheduled for tomorrow via zoom - ugh, shoot me now. It is so hard to stay focused and the loss of being able to feel the vibe and read a person’s facial expressions and body language really makes it hard to fully grasp their presentation. Throw in random things popping up on the screen or other people trying to chime in and it becomes a very poor format for gathering information. I realize it is the best we have right now and it is light years better than an old school group call with delays and everyone speaking over one another - but I really miss the hearings when we were all face to face and could ask questions and challenge presentations in real time.

There were 24 people that had covid19 that passed away today here in the Commonwealth - back down where we have been averaging after yesterday’s elevated number. There were also 160 new confirmed cases. A whopping 117 bed decrease amongst the hospitalizations bringing total hospitalized to 822, of those, only 174 are ICU beds and of those only 101 are intubated. All the other numbers continue to be flat or down.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) came out with their second round of guidance for schools this fall and although it is still not where I hoped they would be - it is definitely trending in the right direction with them actually discussing three main options: full in class model, at home model, and a hybrid of the in school and remote learning. In addition, the administration made 200 million dollars available for grants for school districts to assist in paying for the additional costs related to covid. The overall theme is to plan to have kids back in school although develop contingency plans in case things shift from a public health standpoint.

Public health evidence suggests schools have not played a significant role in COVID-19 transmission and that children, particularly younger children, are less likely than adults to be infected with COVID-19. Furthermore, if they become infected, it appears children may be less likely to transmit COVID-19 to others. “The message from the medical community remains strong and consistent: We need to get our children back to school, as soon as it is safe to do so,” said Sandra Nelson, MD, an infectious diseases physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. “We believe that returning to the classroom — with appropriate precautions in place — can be done safely if we all remain vigilant. Our children deserve nothing less.”

There will undoubtedly be additional guidance forthcoming over the next couple of weeks as more information is put forth and we are able to continue to push for common sense options. In this directive there is a requirement for masks for all students 2nd grade and older with mask breaks scheduled throughout the day. Between this, recess, and lunch - coupled with kids being kids - I feel that this is not really practical guidance but it is a step in the right direction. I would rather have masks be required when traveling in common areas and some other less restrictive safeguard be in place when the kids are sitting at their desks. Minimum required social distancing is 3 feet - which is at least conceivable for many classrooms.

Like I said, this will evolve over the next couple of weeks and is light years better than the previous direction. I will continue to push for local municipalities and school districts to be given the autonomy to create their own plans under more generalized guidance. I sound like a broken record - but the one size fits all approach of government is not the best solution. School committees, teachers, and administrators know their individual schools and students best - give them the flexibility to create unique solutions that work within their framework. I trust these people to do the right thing to protect our children and the staff - way more than i do some bureaucrat in Boston. Time will tell - but that is my focus.

Well, off to bed. I’m sure the Kardashians, Taylor Swift, and whatever tik tok trendsetter is hot this week are already busy designing masks that will replace the over priced sneaker as the status symbol among school aged children this fall. Ugh, I’m already dreading that conversation - coupled with the - what do you mean you lost your mask - that’s the 6th one this week! Parenting 2020 - although I’ll take that over trying to balance working from home and having my wife in the other room on a conference call, while trying to answer math problems that I haven’t seen in 25 years, fix random tech issues, be a short order cook, and keep the kids from bothering/killing each other, etc. As the Talking Heads once proclaimed: We’re on a road to nowhere!

Peace, Love, and Wash Your Hands-


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