Collaborating Authors


Student party prompts Marblehead High School to suspend in-person learning

Boston Herald

Marblehead High School will return to all-remote learning for at least two weeks after police broke up a "large" student party over the weekend where revelers were gathered "without social distancing or face coverings, sharing drinks," school officials said. "In choosing to ignore the rules set down by the Governor and our community in the pandemic, however, we are not just endangering individuals… we are also potentially harming the community at large," Superintendent John J. Buckey wrote in a letter to families. Many students "scattered" when police responded to break up the party on Friday, making it impossible to identify and quarantine individuals involved, Buckey said. Buckey pointed to a "troubling pattern of behavior in play" in Marblehead and other school districts and said the Friday party was not a singular event. "We all know this is not a new thing for teenagers. However, these are not ordinary times," Buckey said in the letter.

Satellite Data Fill the Void of Dwindling Crop Tours


The pandemic is helping to usher in a new era of food-production forecasts that rely more on satellite data and artificial intelligence and less on information gathered by people. The crop world, including major trading houses and statisticians at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has long depended on scouts trudging through fields to count corn kernels and soybean pods. But travel restrictions and new virus safety measures have cut participation in field tours at a time of increasing scrutiny over food security. "Covid-19 is disrupting agricultural supply chains in developing countries, and observers on the ground can no longer report on crop conditions," said Lillian Kay Petersen, a student at Harvard University. She won the top prize of this year's Regeneron Science Talent Search, a 79-year-old competition for high school students held by the Society for Science and the Public, for her model that uses daily satellite images to predict crop yields in Africa.

Massachusetts families struggle with remote and hybrid learning decisions amid COVID fears

Boston Herald

Students and parents across the state said they struggled with remote learning, but are fearful to return to school buildings amid the coronavirus pandemic, placing the stress of uncertainty upon families as fall approaches. "I think it is cruel and mean to think that students should be in a room at their seat without any physical touch for hours," said Jay'dha Rackard, 12, who attends Helen Davis Leadership Academy. Her mother, Janina Rackard, said she decided to keep her daughter home for remote learning this school year, "I feel like our children are being treated like Petri dishes." School shutdowns and remote learning models from the spring took a toll on students and parents, families said during a Thursday virtual press conference hosted by the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance. "Remote learning probably came at the worst possible time in my life," said Chelsea High School senior Victoria Stutto. She said her father died shortly after school was shut down.

NJ students: Virtual National Leadership Conference held


Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) held its first-ever virtual National Leadership Conference since the organization was founded in 1945. This year's virtual National Leadership Conference was a memorable chapter in FCCLA's story as the organization kicked off its 75th anniversary celebration and honored FCCLA's Class of 2020. Instead of gathering in-person, 65 of Edison's John P. Stevens High School FCCLA students logged on to an online platform from Tuesday, July 7, through Thursday, July 9, which blended virtual reality and gamification technology to transform FCCLA's National Leadership Conference (NLC) into an "on-demand" virtual experience. This year's historic virtual NLC included keynote speakers, breakout sessions, leadership training, a College Fair and EXPO, STAR Events recognition, networking opportunities, adviser professional development, and many more activities. With just a click of a button, members had the opportunity to participate in the Ultimate Leadership Experience in the comfort and safety of their home.

Massachusetts not tracking coronavirus outbreaks in schools even as health officials say they're 'inevitable'

Boston Herald

The state said it has no formal reporting process for tracking coronavirus outbreaks that have already cropped up in summer school programs, leaving teachers unions wondering how health officials plan to prevent outbreaks considered "inevitable" in the fall. "We are not formally tracking them, but we are trying to notice them as they pop up," said Department of Elementary and Secondary Education spokeswoman Jacqueline Reis. "There is no formal reporting process for schools." Reis said the DESE is still finalizing its guidance as schools shore up their plans for remote, in-person or hybrid learning once classes resume in September. "It's absurd and it's stunning but its also not a surprise," said Merrie Najimy, who leads the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

Global exam grading algorithm under fire for suspected bias - Reuters


NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - When Colorado high school student Isabel Castaneda checked her final grades for the International Baccalaureate program in July, she was shocked. Despite being one of the top-ranking students in her public school, she failed a number of courses -- including high-level Spanish, her native language. The International Baccalaureate (IB) program - a global standard of educational testing that also allows U.S. high-school students to obtain college credit - cancelled its exams in May, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of sitting final exams, which usually account for the majority of students' scores, students were assigned their marks based on a mathematical "awarding model", as described by the IB program. "I come from a low-income family - and my entire last two years were driven by the goal of getting as many college credits as I could to save money on school," Castaneda said in a phone interview.