With classes resuming for many students in the coming weeks, schools and states are working to establish plans and guidelines for a safe return. Learn about the latest mandates and concerns from students and families, plus a survey on how large employers are rethinking their virtual care benefits.
As we head into the end of summer, preparations are already underway for the upcoming flu season. Massachusetts will require all children over 6 months old to get a flu vaccine before December 31 to return to school on or after January 1, 2021. This applies to all students attending state child care, preschool, kindergarten, grade school, colleges or universities. Exempt from the mandate are home-schooled students, college students who live off-campus, and students who provide a medical or religious exemption.
This requirement is designed to reduce the number of flu cases and preserve health care resources needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Swab, spit, stay home? College coronavirus testing plans are all over the map from Kaiser Health News
Students and families across the country are facing frustration and confusion with college back-to-school safety plans. With no comprehensive federal guidelines in place, colleges and universities have been left to develop their own safety plans. These plans vary widely, with no common approach according to a survey by the College Crisis Initiative, a project of Davidson College that monitors how higher ed is responding to the pandemic.
Highlights from survey results of nearly 3,000 institutions show that only 75 planned to be fully in-person, while 151 planned to be fully online; 729 will be "mostly online," while the majority (800) are still deciding only weeks ahead of the start of classes.
Even when universities do come to a decision about in-person classes, students may see that reversed after classes begin, as was the case with University of North Carolina. Other concerns include:
- A lack of benchmarks or other ways to measure the effectiveness of safety measures
- Uncertainty around testing, from which students should be tested to how often
Children’s role in spread of virus bigger than thought from The Harvard Gazette
A study by Massachusetts General Hospital and Mass General Hospital for Children found that children infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, had significantly higher levels of the virus in their airways than hospitalized adults.
Although children are less likely to become seriously ill with COVID-19 than adults, these findings indicate they are still potential spreaders of the virus. And given that a higher viral load is linked to greater transmission, this study raises concerns about students returning to school, where their teachers and families may be at greater risk.
A survey from the Business Group on Health found that more than half of large employers said implementing virtual care solutions was one of their top health care benefit initiatives for 2021.
Other findings include:
- 80% believe virtual care will have "a significant impact on how care is delivered in the future" vs 52% in 2018
- 76% have already made changes to improve access to virtual care
- Employers are looking to improve mental health by directing employees to online resources like apps, webinars, and articles