COVID-19 Roundup from Pioneer: 90-day prescription refills?; Who has the power to re-open the economy?; Grading the Bay State in Online Learning; The T & COVID prevention; & more!

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Pioneer staff share their top picks for COVID-19 stories highlighting useful resources, best practices, and questions we should be asking our public and private sector leaders. We hope you are staying safe, and we welcome your thoughts; you can always reach out to us via email:

Our Top Picks for COVID-19 Pandemic News:

Jim Stergios, Executive Director: Pioneer Legal Senior Fellow Jim McKenna and Mary Z. Connaughton have an excellent commentary on federal and state government power in the COVID crisis. Lots of good insights on the Commerce and Dormant Commerce Clause – and a reminder about the power of the people. AG William Barr makes many of the same points in this interview, though the AG is more focused on government power.

Coming soon! Pioneer has been covering some key pieces of the overall solution to addressing the challenges of COVID: things like telehealth, digital learning, standards of care in our hospitals, scope of practice regulations on nurses and other healthcare professionals, unemployment insurance funding, and hygienic standards at the MBTA, to name a few. This week, look for another super-timely COVID-related product:

  • What to do when you re-open your business? Business leaders need to plan now. Pioneer understands the complexities, care, and concerns that go into that decision and its implementation. We are pleased to announce that in collaboration with the law firm of Verrill, Pioneer will soon release a practical guide for employers and commercial real estate managers to get employees back to work safely, and a checklist for minimizing or eliminating legal risks.

Coming kind of soon! The week of May 4th, we will be issuing two more timely products:

  • For those interested in the future of transportation, we will be releasing the results from our “Telecommuting Tomorrow” survey (see below).
  • For those concerned about violations of civil liberties during the pandemic, we will be offering to the public a “Respect My Rights” civil liberties hotline.

William Smith, Visiting Fellow in Life Sciences: The challenge of asymptomatic patients is discussed in the New England Journal of Medicine. And, has Sweden found a better way to handle COVID-19 by eschewing lockdowns?

Also from Bill: Some COVID-19 innovations should be here to stay: Less time commuting, more telemedicine, & more efficient “drive-thru” shopping. Another one? Fewer trips to the pharmacy – 90-day prescription refills – are an obvious improvement.

SURVEY: How will you look at commuting in the future? We’re asking over 30,000 people how their attitudes & habits will shift after COVID. Please be part of our work to understand our changing world – share your feedback, it takes only 2 minutes!

Our Picks for Public & Private Sector Best Practices:

Barbara Anthony, Senior Fellow in Healthcare: You can help end the COVID crisis – read about the contact tracing initiative, which aims to increase testing and provide resources for coronavirus patients.

Mary Z. Connaughton: From Pioneer author and attorney David Clancy – tips for small business owners on the most recent stimulus bill from the Wall Street Journal. Also, don’t forget to check out our interactive map of COVID cases in Massachusetts, updated with newly released data every week.

Jamie Gass, Director of PioneerEducation, wants to call attention to a couple news items:

  • The Boston Globe profiles Massachusetts’ and Rhode Island’s differing approaches to virtual learning; however, it doesn’t mention that both states are over 20 years behind leading digital learning states, including Florida, Arizona, and Utah.
  • Hear engaging interviews with two nationally-recognized digital learning gurus, Michael Horn and Julie Young, featured on Pioneer’s weekly podcast, “The Learning Curve.”
  • One COVID-era casualty we are not lamenting is the closing of Achieve, Inc., announced this week. Achieve, Inc. has been a prime mover behind the inferior-quality Common Core ELA and math standards, the Next Generation Science Standards, and the now defunct PARCC testing consortium that have led to academic stagnation and decline for Massachusetts’ and America’s K-12 schoolchildren.

Questions for Our Public & Private Sector Leaders:

Andrew Mikula, Peters Fellow: How does the MBTA stack up against other transit agencies when it comes to COVID-19 prevention? Read our new report, and news coverage of it herehere, and here.

What’s the latest on unemployment? Greg Sullivan, Research Director, crunched the most recent numbers. Watch him on Fox 25 and read more coverage here.

Do YOU have interesting questions and/or articles to share with us? Please email us, or message us through our social media channels below!

Get Our COVID-19 News, Tips & Resources!

CRPE’s Robin Lake on COVID School Closures & Learning Loss

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Robin Lake, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE), a non-partisan research and policy analysis organization developing transformative, evidence-based solutions for K-12 public education.

Prof. Raymond Arsenault on the 60th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides & Civil Rights

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Raymond Arsenault, the John Hope Franklin Professor of Southern History at the University of South Florida, and author of several acclaimed and prize-winning books on civil rights, including Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice. He shares how he became interested in researching, writing, and teaching about the Civil Rights Movement.

Study: After Years of Steady Increases, Homeschooling Enrollment Rose Dramatically During COVID

After steadily increasing for years, the number of parents choosing to homeschool their children skyrocketed during the pandemic, and policy makers should do more to acknowledge homeschooling as a viable option, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

ASU’s Julie Young, Virtual Schooling Pioneer, on Digital Learning during COVID-19

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-host Cara Candal talks with Julie Young, ASU Vice President of Education Outreach and Student Services, and Managing Director of ASU Prep Academy and ASU Prep Digital. They discuss the implications of COVID-19’s disruption of American K-12 education and the future of digital learning.

UChicago’s Dr. Leon Kass on Genesis, Exodus, & Reading Great Books

This week on “The Learning Curve," guest co-host Jason Bedrick and co-host Gerard Robinson talk with Dr. Leon Kass, MD, the Addie Clark Harding Professor Emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought and the College at the University of Chicago. Dr. Kass describes the important pieces of wisdom and humanity people today can still learn from reading the Book of Genesis, the topic of his 2003 work, The Beginning of Wisdom.

“America Today is on Bended Knee” – 20th Anniversary of 9/11 – 20 Resources for Parents & Students

The heroic stories of 9/11 are part of our national consciousness and memory. It’s the duty and obligation of the living and those who survived to pass along this history to the next generation. As Americans mourn the events of 20 years ago, while in the midst of another national crisis during COVID-19, let’s recommit ourselves to teaching students and the younger generation about seminal events like 9/11 that still shape our world today. To support this effort, we’re offering a variety of resources to help parents, teachers, and high school students.

NYT Best Seller Dr. Kate Clifford Larson on Fannie Lou Hamer & the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Dr. Kate Clifford Larson, a New York Times best-selling biographer of Harriet Tubman and Fannie Lou Hamer. Kate shares why she has written about these historical African-American figures, and how she thinks parents, teachers, and schools can draw on their lives to talk about race.

Valhalla Foundation’s Nancy Poon Lue on STEM Access & Equity

This week on “The Learning Curve," host Gerard Robinson talks with Nancy Poon Lue, incoming Senior Director at the Valhalla Foundation, where she will be leading their K-12 math funding initiatives. Nancy shares her recent work with the EF+Math Program, some of the challenges America has faced in ensuring students have a strong grounding in math and science, and the kinds of results she aims to achieve for kids in all ZIP codes. 

Untangling Variants & Outbreaks: Can Vaccines & Natural Immunity Outrun Delta?

Hubwonk host Joe Selvaggi talks with author, surgeon, and public health expert Dr. Marty Makary about the COVID-19 Delta Variant, the durability of natural and vaccinated immunity, the benefits of booster shots, and the health risks for children as we move into the fall.

Trevor Mattos Shows How Massachusetts Runs on Immigrants

This week on JobMakers, Host Denzil Mohammed talks with Trevor Mattos, research manager at Boston Indicators, the research center at The Boston Foundation, which educates state and local leaders on the important contributions immigrants are making. They discuss the urgency of this work, particularly in a time of divisive disinformation about immigrants and the uncertainty of the pandemic, and some of the surprising findings on the disproportionately large impact immigrant workers, entrepreneurs and innovators are having on the local economy

Yale’s Pulitzer-Winning Prof. David Blight on Frederick Douglass, Slavery, & Emancipation

This week on “The Learning Curve," Cara Candal and guest co-host Derrell Bradford talk with David Blight, Sterling Professor of American History and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University. He is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.

UVA Prof. E.D. Hirsch, Jr. on Core Knowledge, Equity, & Educating Citizens

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Professor E.D. Hirsch, Jr., founder and chairman of the Core Knowledge Foundation, professor emeritus at the University of Virginia, and acclaimed author of the books, Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know and How to Educate a Citizen: The Power of Shared Knowledge to Unify a Nation.