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Think Kids is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that envisions a day when all of West Virginia's kids are safe, healthy, and aspire to do great things
Coping with the COVID-19 pandemic
It's mid-August, but for many families here in West Virginia, their minds are on September 1. That's the day when Governor Jim Justice will make the final call on whether to continue plans to officially open West Virginia's schools on September 8. 

Regarding testing students and staff for the coronavirus before school begins, the Governor says this: “At this moment, right this second, if you said we want to test every child going into every school as well as all the staff and everybody that’s there — at this moment West Virginia does not have the capability to do that." 

And if school sports will be played this year, he says this“If school is open, that means our numbers are down and we play,” Justice said. “We don’t play sports if school is closed.”

Currently, coronavirus response czar Clay Marsh and Bill Crouch, secretary of health and human resources, are preparing a measurement system to Governor Justice later this week. We anticipate it will be shared with the public early next week. Also this Friday, county boards of education are required to submit plans for reopening and must include a five-day in-person learning plan, a blended learning plan and an all-virtual plan. They're also required to share policies for face mask use, social distancing in the classroom, and  controlling hallway traffic and other areas in the building where students/staff can congregate. 

As for where final decision lies when deciding when and how a county school system opens, the governor was frank: “Local control should rule, and that is what we’re going to do,” Justice said. “Local input is going to rule the day.”

From what we've seen, a number of counties are sending surveys to parents, giving them options on how their children can participate. About half of Kanawha County parents/guardians chose in-person learning. Two-thirds of Putnam County schools plan to send their kids to school, rather than participate in online learning (at least for now), and only 15% of Raleigh County families have requested virtual learning applications. 

Not all counties have local media to report their numbers; if you have them for your county, please let us know. 

In our last newsletter, we reported that 13.45% of West Virginia's COVID-19 cases are children and youth between the ages of 0-19 and represent 8.57% of those who have been tested. As of Thursday, 
13.57% of West Virginia’s COVID-19 cases are children between the ages of 0-19 and represent 9.18% of those who have been tested.

WVDHHR's COVID-19 Website
WVDE's COVID-19 Website
West Virginia Feeding Map 
Free COVID-19 Testing Dates/Locations
Session Spotlight
Session One: The State of Health and Hunger in West Virginia
September 22, from 10am to 11:30am
Hunger is growing in West Virginia. Before the pandemic, 1 in 7 adults struggled with hunger; 1 in 5 children struggled. And now? "We went to a situation where you know maybe 15 to 20 percent of the state was struggling to everyone is struggling." Chad Morrison, Mountaineer Food Bank 

Join us for the first conversation in this virtual series, where we'll discuss the current state of health and hunger in West Virginia with experts in both the fields of health care and community food access. 

Dr. Ayne Amjad, State Health Officer and Commissioner of DHHR's Bureau for Public Health
Cyndi Kirkhart, Executive Director, Facing Hunger Food Bank 
Chad Morrison, Executive Director, Mountaineer Food Bank 
Margaret Ann O'Neal, Executive Director, United Way of Central West Virginia 

The session is free and open to the general public. Register here
What we've written 
Reopening schools has become a hot topic, often discussed in the political arena with polarizing views, and more often on social media, with misinformation and bad data. What are moms (and dads, grand families, etc.) to do? Do what they do best, dig deeper. Kell's up on the blog this week with some helpful tips. 
Read her blog post: Moms have skills 

Meet Maddie LaVoie. She's here in West Virginia as a student, starting her senior year at Fairmont State University with a double major in National Security & Intelligence and Political Science. She's also Think Kids' first intern. Learn what she's going to be working on with us. 

Read her post: Introductions, please
Robert Peters is the Senior Attorney with the  Zero Abuse Project and Founder and Chair of the SHIELD Task Force. He joins us to share seven ideas for you and other professionals to adopt to prevent child abuse during the pandemic. We can all lend a hand. 

Read his blog post: Responding to Child Abuse During a Pandemic
Certified fresh data
COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus-- a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. And so, researchers have had little time to study it. Thankfully, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association are collaborating to collect and share all publicly available data from states on child COVID-19 cases. Please note that the definition of "child" varies in age range across states. 

As of August 6, the age distribution of reported COVID-19 cases was provided on the health department websites of 49 states, and including New York City, DC, Puerto Rico, and Guam. While children represented only 9.1% of all cases in states reporting cases by age, over 380,000 children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic.

A smaller subset of states (not West Virginia) reported on hospitalizations and mortality by age, but the available data indicated that COVID-19-associated hospitalization and death is uncommon in children.

From their report: "At this time, it appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is rare among children. However, states should continue to provide detailed reports on COVID-19 cases, testing, hospitalizations, and mortality by age so that the effects of COVID-19 on children’s health can continue to be documented and monitored."

Download full report: Children and COVID-19: State-Level Data Report
Have a minute? We've partnered with the West Virginia Child Care Association and group homes and emergency facilities across the state to get notes of encouragement in the hands of kids who haven't had visitors since the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

Click.Write.Send. That's all you have to do. Help let them know they're not forgotten. 
Kids in Crisis project updates
Join us, Putnam County! We'll be joining the Putnam Wellness Coalition on Friday to discuss the project and hopefully recruit members to participate in our listening sessions. After that, we're moving on to Lincoln and Fayette Counties at the end of the month. 

If you know folks in any of these three counties, please share the links below. This project is a ground-up effort to assert community input into the policymaking process. Please, on behalf of kids in your community, share your insight with us. As the pandemic continues to make in-person meetings a challenge, we'll continue to hold meetings online. Check out our calendar for upcoming dates/times. 

This project has been made possible in part by a grant from The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation. Thank you for your support. 

Take (or share) the survey
View current infographics (Kanawha and Putnam)
View our events calendar
Join our Facebook group, From the Ground Up

Visit our project webpage
What we're reading

Released just last week was a CDC report with hospital rates for children ages 18 yrs and younger. This MMWR is a report analyzing the AAP and Children's Hospital Association research listed above but is worth its own read. Between July 9 and August 6, the country has reported 179,990 new cases, which is a 90-percent increase in child cases in over four weeks. In terms of hospitalization, 0.3 to 8.9 percent of all cases of COVID-19 in children have resulted in hospitalization, and about 0 to 0.4 percent of all COVID-19 hospitalizations were children. An estimated 0 to 0.4 percent resulted in deaths were children.

Read the report: Hospitalization Rates and Characteristics of Children Aged <18 Years Hospitalized with Laboratory-Confirmed COVID-19 — COVID-NET, 14 States, March 1–July 25, 2020

There's an Covid Anxiety app for that. Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and University of Cincinnati researchers have created an app that offers digital mental health support and anxiety coping practices and skills for children. Designed for individuals ages 13 and older, the app engages with users in conversations to help them focus on their feelings/anxiety and provide recommendations for self-care.

The Covid Anxiety app is free and available for download through Google and Apple's app stores. 

Read the article: Cincinnati Children's develops chatbot app to help children cope with COVID-19 related anxiety

Seriously, we're talking about vaping? Research led by scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine shows that teens and young adults who vape are at a much higher risk of contracting COVID-19. The study, which was published online Aug. 11 in the Journal of Adolescent Health, is the first to examine connections between youth vaping and COVID-19 using U.S. population-based data collection. The research found that those who vaped were five to seven times more likely to be infected than those who did not use e-cigarettes.

Read the article: Vaping linked to COVID-19 risk in teens and young adults

What else is happening? 
Join the Fun Fitness Foundation for their Virtual Summer Fun Fitness Kids Challenge! Email and/or phone 681-234-KIDS (if anyone has questions) for details, or click on the image for their Facebook page. 
The Handle with Care program's annual conference is one of our favorites. And so, we're thrilled to share that starting this month, and on almost every Wednesday until June, you can attend a conference session. The agenda is already scheduled; the bio information is available on their website; just click on the image above. Each session is $10. 
The purpose of the TGKVF Summit on Race Matters in West Virginia is to discuss race in a comprehensive, collaborative, and compassionate manner designed to build a Beloved Community in West Virginia. They will host monthly virtual sessions featuring national and local presenters. Click on the link for details on their next session. 
“Thanks for reading The Big Ideas, Think Kids' newsletter. A better West Virginia begins here, with its kids. Check out our newest brochure and if you haven't already, please subscribe."

Candice Hamilton, Board of Directors
P.S. Happy birthday, Candice! 
Copyright Think Kids© 2020 All rights reserved.

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