Cambodia reopens schools after virus shutdown

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Schools in Cambodia opened on Monday for the first time since March, but class sizes and hours were limited as a coronavirus precaution.

Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron said schools might have to be reclosed if any students become infected while attending classes. He said students and teachers must observe safety measures because the virus is still raging in Europe and the United States and a vaccine is not yet available.

Some schools in the capital, Phnom Penh, and parts of eastern Cambodia opened last month in a trial phase, and Hang Chuon Naron said the good results prompted the nationwide reopenings.


“As the government has controlled the COVID situation very well, we have seen that in Cambodia the number of cases has not increased, and especially the border control is every effective,” he told reporters at a school in Phnom Penh.

“We have two objectives — number one is safety for our students, our teachers, as well as the community, and number two is to continue education for everyone,” he said.

Cambodia has reported 292 coronavirus cases with no deaths. The Health Ministry on Monday reported one new case, a Cambodian returning from abroad.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— India has added 45,230 new coronavirus infections, continuing a downturn. The Health Ministry also Monday reported 496 more fatalities, raising the death toll to 122,607. With 8.2 million cases, India is the second worst-hit country behind the U.S. But the number of new cases being diagnosed each day is falling steadily even though testing is not declining. In the last week, there have been fewer than 50,000 new cases every day. Many states have been easing restrictions on schooling and commercial activities to spur the economy, but experts fear a resurgence in the winter, particularly as people socialize in the festive season.

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Follow AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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Hartford judge hears testimony on safety of masks in schools as parents seek to block face coverings rule

A Hartford judge heard hours of testimony on the safety and efficacy of masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus Friday as he decides whether to grant an emergency injunction blocking a state requirement that students wear face coverings in schools.

In a daylong hearing on the injunction, Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher heard from both those downplaying the effectiveness of masks as well as those who said face coverings do not negatively impact children and slow the spread of the virus.

The hearing came several weeks after a group of parents and the CT Freedom Alliance sued the state’s education department and top officials to lift the requirement that children wear masks in schools out of fear of the harms they pose to children both mentally and physically.

The assertions in the lawsuit are in direct conflict with scientific evidence that shows that mask-wearing slows the spread of COVID-19. Lawyers for the state have argued there is no evidence to support the claim that masks are dangerous and that in fact masks are protecting students as they attend in-person classes.

Quick to send students home for virtual learning in the spring, Connecticut education officials outlined extensive measures to safely return students to school this fall. Key among those measures was a requirement that students and staff wear masks in school.

Moukawsher set Friday’s hearing to get testimony from two expert witnesses called by the plaintiffs, as well as the state’s witnesses, before ruling on the request for an injunction. The state has filed a motion to dismiss the case, which Moukawsher will address after the injunction.

Lawyers for the parents and CT Freedom Alliance first called on a Los Angeles-based psychiatrist, who said that masks can inhibit development, cause stress and led to other complications for children.

“I am greatly concerned by what I am seeing … children who are forced to wear masks in a school settings as well as outside the school settings are in imminent harm,” said Dr. Mark McDonald. McDonald also noted that the risk of oxygen deprivation can led to “permanent neurological damage in children, which we will not be able to address because the window will have passed.”

The state questioned McDonald’s beliefs in masks and the government response to the pandemic. McDonald said he believes that a healthy person confers no benefits to others when wearing a mask.

The plaintiff’s second witness, Knut Whittkowski, a New York-based epidemiologist with 35 years in the field, said he reviewed scores of studies and could not find evidence that masks were effective outside a health care setting.

“I went through all the literature I could find, and all the literature I was presented and I could not find convincing evidence on the effectiveness of surgery masks or bandannas or other masks worn in non-health care settings in general,” Whittkowski said. “And in particular, I couldn’t find evidence for the effectiveness of mask wearing by children.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and

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Why Is Europe Keeping Its Schools Open, Despite New Lockdowns?

BERLIN — When Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the latest round of restrictions on public life, she named bars, restaurants, theaters, concert halls, gyms and tattoo parlors as institutions that would be forced to close. But missing from the list released on Wednesday were schools and day care centers — among the first to be shuttered in the spring lockdown.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron also said on Wednesday that schools would be exempt from wide-reaching nationwide restrictions that are to take effect beginning Friday. Ireland also allowed schools to remain open despite a nationwide lockdown that went into effect earlier this month.

Not everyone is happy with the decisions, but policymakers are taking extra precautions to reduce the risk in schools, from mask requirements for teachers and pupils, to regular airing of classrooms, to split use of schoolyards during breaks. They say they are applying hard-learned lessons from months of fighting the pandemic, and are prepared to change directions if things take a turn for the worse.

Micheal Martin, the Irish prime minister, said that while his country could no longer avoid restrictions, despite the detrimental impact on the economy, it was vital that schools remained open.

“We cannot and will not allow our children and young people’s futures to be another victim of this disease,” Mr. Martin said in a national address. “They need their education.”

Around the world, there is mounting concern that the pandemic is doing lasting harm to the academic and emotional development of an entire generation of children.

Earlier this month, the German conference of ministers of culture, who are responsible for coordinating education policy, stressed children’s right to an education, which they said is best served among peers, in classrooms. “This must take highest priority in making all decisions about restrictive measures that need to be taken,” the minister said.

In making her announcement, Ms. Merkel cited another reason that maintaining access to schools was important, pointing to the “dramatic social consequences” that closing schools and day care centers had on families during the lockdown in March and April.

“To name it clearly: Violent assaults against women and children increased dramatically,” Ms. Merkel said, justifying her government’s decision to halt sports, cultural events and close restaurants instead. “It is important to bear in mind the social consequences if we have to intervene in these issues.”

Keeping children at home often made it hard for parents — especially mothers — to devote their divided attention to work.

Medical experts point to many things they now know that were unknown back in the spring: with proper precautions, the rate of coronavirus transmission in schools is relatively low, especially among the youngest students; children who do get infected tend to have mild symptoms; and measures like mask-wearing, social distancing and air circulation are more effective than they had predicted.

But that does not mean open schools are risk-free. While schools are not known to have been a major

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Parents in so-called ‘mom code’ allegedly refuse to get kids tested for COVID-19 to help keep schools open

The so-called “mom code” is allegedly being shared by some parents in Utah.

Health officials are sounding the alarm about a group of parents in Utah who are allegedly pledging to not have their children tested for COVID-19 in order to make infection numbers artificially appear lower.

The alleged push to avoid getting kids tested, dubbed the “mom code,” is seen in messages shared on Facebook urging parents to keep their child at home if they show COVID-19 symptoms, but to not get tested.

The messages are reportedly being shared among parents in Utah’s Davis School District, which oversees more than 73,000 students in Davis County, Utah.

“If there is a quarantine with a sports team or with any of the classrooms, they are encouraging each other not to have their children tested,” said Genevra Prothero, a parent in the school district, who fears community spread if the “mom code” is encouraged. “This is a time where we need to really focus on tracing the virus so we can be able to stop the spread.”

State health officials say it’s unknown how many parents are actually taking part in the alleged “mom code,” but warn that those who do could be contributing to the spread of COVID-19.

PHOTO: Facebook screenshots allegedly show parents discouraging testing for COVID-19.

Facebook screenshots allegedly show parents discouraging testing for COVID-19.

“Testing is a critical element of our response,” health officials told “Good Morning America” in a statement, in part. “Identifying cases …is a key strategy to limiting the spread of disease in our communities.”

Davis County currently has more than 8,000 reported cases of COVID-19. The state of Utah has more than 104,000 cases of COVID-19, according to state health data.

The United States is the worst-affected country, with more than 8.6 million diagnosed cases of COVID-19 and at least 225,230 deaths.

Emilie Daly, a mother of four young children, is running for the school board in Davis County. She told “GMA” that while she is not participating in the reported “mom code,” she can understand why some parents would.

“It’s not mandated to get tested, that’s the thing,” she said. “And so we need to remember that it is a choice and you need to make decisions based off of what you feel.”

The Davis School District did not reply to ABC News’ request for comment. ABC News also reached out to some of the parents allegedly involved in the so-called “mom code” and they also did not reply.

Students in the district are currently attending school on a varied, hybrid model of in-person and remote learning, according to the school district’s website.

The school district’s Board of Education last week released its quarantine protocols for students and staff, noting that in the case of a school outbreak, the classroom or school would enter a “14-day quarantine with students moving to remote learning.”

“The longer

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2 More Coronavirus Cases Confirmed In Wallingford Schools

WALLINGFORD, CT — Two more cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in the Wallingford Public School District, according to officials.

Officials notified families Sunday night that one person associated Pond Hill Elementary School tested positive for the coronavirus. The person was determined to be in “close contact with one or more people while in a school setting,” according to a message sent to parents.

A contact tracing investigation was launched and everyone who was identified as a close contact has already been notified by school officials.

Officials were also notified Sunday night that another person associated with the school district tested positive for the virus.

“In working with the Wallingford Health Department, it has been determined that this individual was in close contact with one or more people while in the school setting,” according to a message sent to parents. “The Wallingford Public School District, in collaboration with the Wallingford Health Department, initiated a case investigation and contact tracing activities to identify all individuals who may have been in close contact with the case. All individuals identified as close contacts have already been notified by the building administration or the school nurse.”

See also: Coronavirus Cases Reported At 3 Schools In Wallingford

This article originally appeared on the Wallingford Patch

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Quarantine List, Dorchester To Close Schools

MARYLAND — This week Maryland saw an increase in coronavirus cases as testing ramped up. Results from more than 30,000 tests were reported by state health officials Sunday, capping off a week in which one school system closed its buildings, citing increasing coronavirus positivity rates, and three states added Maryland to their quarantine lists because of the number of new cases.

Nearly 800 cases of coronavirus were added to Maryland’s tally Sunday morning, marking the fourth consecutive day of at least 700 cases reported in the state.

The state’s coronavirus positivity rate is 3.17 percent on a seven-day rolling average, according to the Maryland Department of Health, which is comparable to last week’s 3.14 percent positivity rate. It remains under 5 percent, which is the recommended benchmark positivity rate for reopening established by the World Health Organization.

Cases Reported This Week

  • Sunday, Oct. 25 — 792 cases

  • Saturday, Oct. 24 — 796 cases

  • Friday, Oct. 23 — 712 cases

  • Thursday, Oct. 22 — 743 cases

  • Wednesday, Oct. 21 — 492 cases

  • Tuesday, Oct. 20 — 590 cases

  • Monday, Oct. 19 — 497 cases

More than 140,200 people in Maryland have tested positive for the virus, state health officials reported Sunday.

Prince George’s County has the most cases in Maryland, with 32,225 overall as of Sunday, according to the Maryland Department of Health. Next is Montgomery County with 25,147 total cases of the virus, followed by Baltimore County with 20,208 and Baltimore City with 17,440.

Montgomery County added over 100 new cases daily 10 times in two weeks, according to state health officials.

On the Eastern Shore, Dorchester County Public Schools closed its school buildings after an increase in coronavirus positivity in the district. The positivity rate was 6.1 percent in Dorchester County, according to the school system’s superintendent, who reported Wednesday, Oct. 21, the district had reassessed its plans.

“Over the last six days the Dorchester County community has seen an increase in its COVID-19 positivity rate,” Superintendent Dave Bromwell said in a statement Oct. 21. “The positivity rate has increased exponentially to make Dorchester County the 3rd highest in the state of Maryland over this short period of time.”

As a result of the metrics, Dorchester County was returning to phase one of its reopening effective Tuesday, Oct. 27.

A recent spike in coronavirus infections prompted three states to put Maryland on its list of state with quarantine orders.

When travelers from Maryland head to Connecticut, New Jersey or New York, they will have to self-isolate for 14 days.

As long as Maryland averages more than 604 coronavirus cases a day in a seven-day period, it will remain on the list of troubled states. Those on the list have a positive case rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents in the last seven days.

Here is data on coronavirus in Maryland for Sunday, Oct. 25, from the state health department:

Courtesy of Maryland Department of Health.
Courtesy of Maryland Department of Health.

Related:

Jacob Baugmart contributed to this report.

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Manatee County Schools offer tools for Spanish-speaking parents

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Jenny Rodriguez is most often the person parents talk to when they call the Manatee County School District’s phone line for Spanish-speakers. (Photo: Provided by Debra Estes)

When students have problems at schools, parents can often intervene, working with teachers and administration to try to find solutions.

But what happens when a parent doesn’t speak English and cannot communicate with the school? Language barriers can make problems worse, as a student also loses an advocate who could help resolve a situation. 

In Manatee County, the school system has created a comprehensive communication plan that makes all the information that’s available in English also available in Spanish. This includes information on its website in Spanish, a Spanish-language Facebook page and advertising in Spanish.

The school system also set up a dedicated phone line for Spanish-speaking parents to use if they have questions or need information.

“I think what’s important is that we are working very hard to improve and expand … ways to reach our families and also help our Spanish-speaking students,” said Kevin Chapman, director of strategic planning and district initiatives at Manatee Schools. “It’s a real concerted effort and, I think, it’s been pretty successful so far.”

More: Read stories about the importance of digital access in Sarasota-Manatee.

While officials say there are about 90 different languages spoken in county schools, Latino students make up about 34% of the district’s population. School officials believe it is essential that the parents of these students are involved in their child’s education because it has been shown that the more engaged a parent is, the better the child performs in school. 

Geri Chaffee, an education advocate for Latinos and founder of Dreamers Academy, said Latino parents – a “consumer of educational services” – and schools – a “provider of educational services” – have different cultures but are aching to connect with one another.

She worked with Manatee schools on the effort and says what the county has done accomplishes that and she hopes it becomes a model for other school districts. 

“Latinos’ number one policy issue, consistently, is education. Number one. Above immigration, deportation, economics,” President Donald Trump or Democratic challenger Joe Biden, she said.

“So, you’ve got a community that’s desperate for their kids to do well in school, and then you’ve got a district that’s desperate for these kids to do well.”

More: Thousands of Sarasota-Manatee students lack the internet or equipment to learn from home

More: Telehealth services coming to six Manatee County schools

Chapman said the school system began working on how to better communicate with Latino parents last year, as the district worked on the strategic plan that was approved in September. He said among the goals was to both improve communication with parents and to improve diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

While those were the broad goals, it made sense that an effort be made to reach out to Latino families.

That need came into focus in August as the school system began planning its

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JCPS middle schools named champions in effort to promote healthy kids

Jake Steinfeld, Opinion contributor
Published 6:31 a.m. ET Oct. 23, 2020

Obesity doesn’t discriminate, it affects us all and is now considered the single greatest threat to our children. In fact, experts fear that this generation of kids may be the first to live shorter lives than their parents. Right now, more than 70% of adults are considered overweight or obese, as well as 1 in 3 American kids and teens.

Obesity also leads to serious ailments. It’s been linked to 60 chronic diseases including cancer, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease and a variety of sleep disorders. This preventative disease is one of the most prolific killers in our country and is a contributing factor to 300,000 deaths annually in the U.S.

To complicate matters even further, we as a nation are dealing with a pandemic that also doesn’t discriminate. COVID-19 has affected all age groups and doctors around the nation have reported that people with co-morbidities such as obesity are more negatively affected by this virus. We know for a fact that underlying health problems including obesity have exacerbated the toll the virus has taken on our at-risk citizens.   

COVID Watch: Increase in obesity in Kentucky puts people at higher risk from COVID-19

Stuart Academy and Frost Academy were given a brand new, state-of-the-art fitness center for demonstrating new and innovative ways of promoting student physical activity and wellness. (Photo: provided)

I’ve dedicated the last 40 years of my life to providing solutions for positive change. And during this unprecedented time, I believe exercise and physical activity are more important than ever. Not only as a means for general health but potentially as a means to stave off COVID-19. While physical activity won’t stop someone from contracting the coronavirus, it does play a role in keeping you healthy. 

One of my ideas to help kids get in shape was the creation of the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils (NFGFC), which helps motivate and inspire kids to make fitness a priority in their lives. Each year, our program gifts brand new, $100,000 state-of-the-art DON’T QUIT! fitness centers to elementary and middle schools across the country. Because each fitness center is financed through public/private partnerships with companies like The Coca-Cola Company, Anthem Foundation, Wheels Up and Nike, it doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime.

As a result of these crucial partnerships, we’ve been able to roll this program out to 36 states so far and have delivered more than 110 fitness centers to schools. We won’t stop until we visit all 50 states. We are building a nation that, through innovation and a “Don’t Quit” attitude, will boast some of the fittest and healthiest kids in the world!

I’ve dedicated my life to helping Americans get and stay fit, but in order to make a systemic change, we must focus our efforts on children. And this year, children in Kentucky are going to see what fitness can do to change their lives!

I’m proud to say that

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VA School Coronavirus Dashboard Launched, 2 NoVA Schools On List

VIRGINIA — With more students heading back to school for in-person learning in parts of Virginia, the state Department of Health has added a new feature to its coronavirus website that lists current and past outbreaks of the virus in schools.

The VDH dashboard feature, called “Outbreaks in School Settings,” shows a list of outbreaks at Virginia schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. No current outbreaks in schools in Northern Virginia were reported by the VDH on Saturday.

In Alexandria, though, Episcopal High School has an outbreak that is “pending closure.” Outbreaks are labeled as “pending closure” if 28 days have passed without a documented new case and the outbreak has not yet been closed in the Virginia Outbreak Surveillance System.

In Loudoun County, Dominion High School had an outbreak that is now listed as “closed.” Outbreaks are labeled as “closed” when two incubation periods of 28 days have passed without onset of new illness and the health district has closed the outbreak in its outbreak surveillance system.

The dashboard will help schools measure the extent to which the coronavirus is spreading in their localities and guide possible responses, according to the VDH.

“Fully re-opening our schools remains a priority as we work to slow the spread of COVID-19. Students have different learning styles, and for some, face-to-face interactions in a classroom are important to achievement,” Virginia State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver said Friday in a statement.

By providing additional information on where outbreaks are occurring, the VDH hopes to offer a broader picture of the impact of the coronavirus and help communities decide where to place resources to prevent and control outbreaks, Oliver said.

“Given the changing nature of the pandemic, we felt providing these data at this time poses no risk to public health investigations or to compromising patient anonymity,” he said.

Only cases associated with outbreaks are displayed and not the total number of cases among students or staff that are unrelated to the outbreak. The dashboard lists public and private schools. Only the outbreaks where transmission occurred at the school or school-sponsored events are included.

Latest COVID-19 Numbers in Virginia

The VDH reported 1,088 new cases of the coronavirus Saturday, bringing the cumulative total to 172,372. The new cases include 374 in the southwest region, 219 in the central region, 196 in the northern region, 153 in the northwest region and 146 in the eastern region.

There have been 3,578 coronavirus deaths to date, which include 39 reported in the last day. Because deaths may be reported on a different day than the one on a death certificate, VDH also tracks death certificate dates. To date, the highest seven-day average of deaths by death certificate date was 40 on May 5. Data may be incomplete for the most recent weeks, but the seven-day average has been less than half of the May 5 peak since June.

Cases of the coronavirus have been increasing steadily over the last four weeks in Lee, Scott and Wise

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Coronavirus surge closes schools on Eastern Shore

Dorchester County School Superintendent W. David Bromwell said about 20 percent of the school system’s 4,700 students were on campus part time — a number slated to more than double next week under a hybrid-learning plan for pre-K to grade 12.

“We were doing well and moving slowly,” he said. But a sudden spike in the prevalence of the coronavirus brought the plan to a halt.

The test-positivity rate jumped from 2.9 percent to 6.1 percent in a eight-day period, said Dorchester County Health Officer Roger Harrell.

Coronavirus cases have not spread in schools, school and health officials said. They called the closure a cautionary measure taken to prevent a school outbreak.

“The scary part is how quickly it flipped, and it seemed to be growing exponentially,” Bromwell said. “It just appears that it’s hitting rural America.”

The sharp increase has not been traced to a particular event or outbreak in any part of the county and has affected people across age levels, Harrell said. The county includes the city of Cambridge, amid an expanse of farmland and waterways.

“We’ve not really figured out why,” he said. “I wish we had the magic answer, but we don’t have it yet.”

It will take at least two weeks of consistently lower positivity rates before schools can reopen, officials said.

At that point, Thanksgiving — and the possibility of spread during family get-togethers — may be around the corner and “certainly a concern,” Bromwell said.

“It kind of takes the wind out of your sails,” he said. “You start to get the impression that you’re returning to normalcy, and then . . . it takes the wind out of you.”

In recent months, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and State Superintendent Karen Salmon have visited schools around the state, lauding efforts to revive classroom instruction. Hogan said in late August that school systems were fully authorized to begin safely reopening for in-person classes, based on improving health metrics.

Nineteen of the state’s 24 school systems have opened school buildings to students to some extent this fall, state officials said Friday.

Hogan’s office issued a statement Friday saying Dorchester’s approach is consistent with data-driven health metrics provided by the state.

“The recent rise in the county’s positivity rate is connected to a small number of family clusters, which is in line with trends we are seeing statewide,” spokesman Mike Ricci said.

Salmon called the changes in Dorchester “an example of the metrics being utilized to inform health-based decisions at the local level,” according to a statement provided by the Maryland Department of Health.

Dorchester opened Sept. 8 and soon brought back seniors in career programs and later students with special needs. More recently, it embarked on a hybrid approach that combined online and in-person learning for students in pre-K, kindergarten, sixth grade and ninth grade.

Since schools opened, nine people related to schools in Dorchester have tested positive: four students, all teenagers, and five employees, only some of whom worked in school buildings.

The

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