Back-to-School, Including Virtually, Begins for Millions of American Students

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Currents News Staff

It’s the first day of school for more than 1.8 million students.

But for those attending 14 of the nation’s 16 largest school districts opening today, Sept.8, classes will be held entirely online.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reported over 70,000 new cases in children over the two weeks ending August 27. That’s an increase of 17 percent.

While grade schools evaluate the safest way to begin the academic year, some college towns are already turning into coronavirus hotspots.

In upstate New York, SUNY Oneonta reported at least 651 cases since the start of the semester. At Iowa State, at least 900 students tested positive since August 1.

At the University of New Hampshire, a cluster of cases has been linked to a fraternity party attended by more than 100 people.

Beth Daly, Chief at NH DHHS Bureau of Infectious Disease Control says room for concern is understandable.

“So we’re concerned about any other individuals who may have been attending events there or visiting their friends at this location just because we know there have been at least 11 people who have tested positive,” Beth says.

That risk is why NYU says it suspended 20-plus students for violating the university’s health and safety guidelines.

This occurred as health experts fear celebrations and crowds over Labor Day Weekend could fuel another round of dangerous spikes, as seen over Memorial Day and the Fourth of July holidays.

Former CDC Official William Schaffner says it’s a marathon not a sprint.

“It is very, very important that we continue to have all the social distancing, mask wearing, avoiding large groups,” William says. “We’re all very concerned that the behaviors this weekend will be an accelerant and spread COVID virus even further. Flu is on the way. That will double the danger.”

President Donald Trump once again implying a vaccine could be ready by November.

“So, we’re going to have a vaccine very soon,” President Trump says, “maybe even before a very special date. You know what date I’m talking about.”

But health experts say there’s no guaranteed timeline, emphasizing that delivering a safe and effective preventative is key. Former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy remains hopeful.

“I’m really hopeful that we will have a vaccine by year end or by early next year,” Vivek says, “but the key thing about the process for getting a vaccine is that it has to be driven by science and scientists, not by political figures or by political timelines.”