COVID-19 Roundup from Pioneer: The race for a vaccine; Unemployment Tracker; Reopening reactions; Grading BPS on remote learning; Holyoke Soldiers’ Home understaffing; & 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:  pioneer@pioneerinstitute.org.

Our Top Picks for COVID-19 Pandemic News:

William Smith, Visiting Fellow in Life Sciences: The Federal government awarded a $354 million contract to a Richmond company who will be manufacturing Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) for COVID-19 treatments, APIs that are now manufactured in China and India. An update on Moderna’s vaccine progressPfizer is chasing Moderna to secure a vaccine. And, more on the race for a vaccine.

Michael Walker, Senior Fellow in Government Data Transparency: Don’t forget to check out our interactive map of COVID cases in Massachusetts, updated every week with newly released city and town data!

What’s the latest on unemployment? Greg Sullivan, Research Director, crunched the most recent numbers.

Our Picks for Public & Private Sector Best Practices:

Rebekah Paxton, Research Analyst: Pioneer’s new COVID Unemployment Tracker provides an interactive look at how economic shutdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are affecting jobs and lives across the state of Massachusetts. Read media coverage of the tool herehere and here.

Joe Selvaggi, Host, “Hubwonk”: Yesterday, Pioneer researcher Rebekah Paxton and I interviewed Christopher Carlozzi of NFIB, and Jon Hurst of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, about their reaction to Massachusetts Governor Baker’s reopening plans.

Jamie Gass, Pioneer’s Education Policy Director, shares two videos from a recent Thomas More College Zoom event on homeschooling, parental rights, and school choices, which had over 1,000 viewers online. It featured noted Princeton University professor (and past Lovett C. Peters Lecture keynote speaker) Dr. Robert GeorgeJamie provided the closing remarks on Blaine Amendments and the U.S. Supreme Court’s Espinoza case. In addition, here’s a Boston Globe editorial: “How well is remote learning working in Boston schools? We don’t really know.”

Questions for Our Public & Private Sector Leaders:

Andrew Mikula, Peters Fellow: Pioneer’s new report shows that standards enforced at the federal and state levels are insufficient to address chronic staffing issues reported by staff and residents’ families at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, making that facility and other long-term care facilities particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the report, and media coverage here and here.

Poll Results: In the last COVID Roundup, we asked: When we re-open, are you going to be more or less likely to take the T than pre-COVID? Here are the results: 18% More Likely; 82% Less Likely

Get Our COVID-19 News, Tips & Resources!

Related Analysis

MCAS testing essential to address falling test scores

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Amid the chaos that was created by schools suddenly being shuttered in March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it made sense to cancel administration of Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) tests. But supporters of pending legislation that would place a four-year moratorium on using MCAS as a high school graduation requirement and create a commission to study alternatives to the tests are no longer responding to a crisis; they are using it to advance their anti-reform agenda.

Wall Street Journal Columnist Jason Riley on the 2020 Election, School Choice, & Race in America

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Jason Riley, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and columnist for The Wall Street Journal. Jason shares insights on the 2020 election, its implications for the next two years, and assuming Vice President Biden becomes president, how he may govern on K-12 education.

Disputing Democracy – 5 Contentious U.S. Presidential Elections – Resources for K-12 Education

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Pioneer Institute Statement on Governor Baker’s New COVID Restrictions

Read Pioneer Institute's public statement about Gov. Charlie Baker's new executive orders related to the state’s reopening plan that will go into effect on Nov. 6, issued in response to a significant uptick in COVID infections in Massachusetts,

Voting for Health: Party Opinions, Election Results & the Healthcare Policy Implications of Election 2020

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Join Host Joe Selvaggi as he discusses with Harvard Professor Bob Blendon his New England Journal of Medicine Special Report, "Implications of the 2020 Election for U.S. Health Policy," which covers broad differences in both party’s view of the role of government in health care and what the election results will mean for Americans.

Hockey Sidelined Again

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After months on the sidelines, youth hockey players across the state eagerly laced up their skates in August. Under current youth and amateur sports guidelines, locker rooms operate at 50 percent capacity, only one spectator should attend per player, and players wear masks on the bench. Unlike in MIAA high school sports, players do not wear facemasks while they play, except during faceoffs. 

“Double, Double Toil and Trouble” - 15 Halloween Resources for K-12 Students

In Pioneer’s ongoing series of blogs here, on curricular resources for parents, families, and teachers during COVID-19, this one focuses on: Introducing K-12 students to the history behind Halloween.

Staving Off Disaster: Lessons from Covid Applied to the Epic Battle Against Drug Resistant Microbes

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Join Hubwonk host Joe Selvaggi and Pioneer Institute’s Bill Smith as they discuss with inspirational public health advocate Gunnar Esiason the findings of his latest white paper, "Antimicrobial Resistance: Learning From the current health crisis to inform another."  The episode looks at the challenges to global health presented by evolving drug resistant diseases and how the lessons learned from COVID-19 could potentially save millions of lives.

The Commonwealth of Health -Massachusetts’s Great Medical Innovations - 15 Resources for High School Students

In Pioneer’s ongoing series of blogs here, on curricular resources for parents, families, and teachers during COVID-19, this one focuses on: Introducing high school students to great medical innovations from Massachusetts.

NCTQ’s Kate Walsh on the Crisis in K-12 Teacher Prep, Quality, & Evaluation

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality. They discuss the qualifications of those who enter the teaching profession, explore teacher preparation, and key differences between teacher preparation, accreditation, and job prospects in the U.S. and other countries. They also speculate about what a Biden presidency might mean for K-12 education policymaking, and discuss how to diversify the teaching pipeline.

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Understanding the enduring public and private benefit that great inventors and their contraptions have made to our civilization is to better appreciate the connections between human necessity, creativity, and ingenuity. Yet, in American K-12 education very little focus is placed on studying who America’s great inventors were and the central role they’ve played in shaping our republic of gadgets. We’re offering a variety of links on the topic for parents, teachers, and schoolchildren to enjoy and better realize authentic innovators.

Cheryl Brown Henderson, Daughter of Lead Plaintiff in Brown v. Board of Ed., on Race & Schooling

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Cheryl Brown Henderson, president of the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence, and Research. She shares her experience as the daughter of the lead plaintiff in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, and thoughts on how the historic decision contributed to advancing civil rights in our country.