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Medical News & Perspectives
July 9, 2020

School Superintendents Confront COVID-19—“There Are No Good Options for Next Year”

JAMA. Published online July 9, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.12575

If Susan Enfield, EdD, had a nickel for every time someone in recent weeks told her they wouldn’t want her job, she’d be a wealthy woman.

Enfield is the superintendent of Highline Public Schools, which serves more than 17 000 students in suburban Seattle. She’s been losing sleep over how to prevent those students—who haven’t been inside a classroom since March 12—from falling further behind academically, given that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic shows no sign of waning, let alone ending, by the time school resumes September 3.

“There are no good options for next year,” Enfield said in an interview. “There is no scenario in the fall that doesn’t break your heart.”

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    1 Comment for this article
    EXPAND ALL
    Rapid Testing
    David Lewis, Artist | no affiliation
    Because a certain level of SARS-CoV-2 virus has to exist in a patient before they can infect others, infected people have a window of time during the course of their infection where they are capable of infecting others.

    Cheap rapid result antigen tests are very accurate at identifying people during this window of time.

    In a preprint and in media appearances (1,2), Dr. Michael Mina states it is possible to produce a test in quantities large enough quickly enough that, for instance, children returning to school could be tested every day, with a result
    coming in 10 - 15 minutes, to determine if they are infectious. As production of such a test became a reality, the cost per test would approach $1. This is off the shelf technology. He's talking about exposing a paper strip to saliva.

    REFERENCES

    1. "Test sensitivity is secondary to frequency and turnaround time for COVID-19 surveillance" is available on MedRxiv https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.06.22.20136309v2

    2. Episode 640 of the podcast "This Week in Virology" https://www.microbe.tv/twiv/twiv-640/
    CONFLICT OF INTEREST: None Reported
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