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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
Summertime and COVID-19
West Virginia's number of active cases have slightly decreased, after a few weeks of dramatic increases that doubled our numbers. The number of hospitalized patients more than doubled as well. In response, Governor Justice has imposed a number of executive orders. All fairs, festivals, carnivals, or similar events, as well as all indoor or outdoor concerts, are prohibited. The limit for all purely social gatherings has been reduced to 25 individuals. And importantly, all West Virginians age 9 and older are required to wear a face covering at all indoor public places where 6 feet of social distancing cannot be maintained. For children ages 2 years old through 8 years old, face coverings are not required. However, it is recommended that parents or guardians use their best judgment as to when to assist their children, ages 2 through 8, with wearing a face covering. Children younger than 2 years old and anyone who has trouble breathing should not wear face coverings and are exempt from the face covering requirement.

In our last newsletter, we reported that 10.16% of all COVID-19 cases in our state are individuals ages 19 and under. That number has increased. Currently, 12.62% of West Virginia's COVID-19 cases are children and youth between the ages of 0-19 and represent 7.54% 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
Think Kids' COVID-19 Resource Page
Schools face continuing struggles before fall opening 

Last week, Governor Jim Justice announced that West Virginia's public and private schools won’t reopen until September 8. Like many school districts across the country, our county school systems must now reconsider their reopening plans and sometimes reverse course for the upcoming school year, as
coronavirus infection rates continue to surge in pockets across our state. 

West Virginia is a local control state, meaning that policy decisions often lie in the hands of each of the state's 55-county school systems. This leaves reopening decisions in the hands of school administration and local leadership. As we at Think Kids have learned on our bimonthly webinars, every county is planning a little differently, and are in varying stages in the planning process. 

Below is a list of links to guidance and useful information to inform reopening policies. We hope that county leadership will not only value the guidance of health care and education experts, but that they'll craft these policies with the input of their communities, making the process transparent and policies available online. And of course, we hope that health care is at the planning table

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidance 
American Academy of Pediatrics: COVID-19 Planning Considerations: Guidance for School Re-entry

WVDE School Re-Entry Guidance
Johns Hopkins University eSchool+ Initiative: Analysis of school reopening policies
Future Ed: What Congressional Covid Funding Means for K-12 Schools
We're going virtual. Starting on September 22, we're launching the Health and Hunger Summit series-- weekly 90-minute online sessions about the increasing need to address food access, building bridges between health care and social supports, and what role we can play in informing policy. You can still register and receive email notifications when sessions are scheduled, or check our project website for updates. Thanks again to Unicare for their sponsorship. 
Kids in Crisis project updates- surveys, sessions, and responses
Our statewide assessment of the needs of kids affected by the drug crisis continues. To date, we've received nearly 800 surveys, scheduled 10 listening sessions and interviewed 23 participants. At the end of the month, we'll end our work in Kanawha County and pivot to Putnam and Lincoln Counties. 

Parents, grandparents, guardians, doctors, nurses, teachers, bus drivers, camp counselors, pastors, coaches, etc.-- community members who work with these children, care for them, and have important knowledge that should inform policy, we want to hear from you.  No input you share will be directly attributed to you. You do not have to turn on your video. You can write your responses in the chat box. However you'd feel most comfortable in participating, it's okay with us. 
Quotes from session participants 
We encourage you to share information about this project widely with friends/family/colleagues. The more we learn from what's happening on the ground level, the better we can define and articulate the needs of affected children, youth, families, and communities on the state level. We're interested in learning more from all perspectives-- including kids! 

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 
Have a few minutes? We've partnered with the West Virginia Child Care Association and group homes/emergency facilities across the state to get encouraging cards 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. 
What we're reading

Children rarely transmit COVID-19, doctors write in new commentary of the journal Pediatrics. The authors, both pediatric infectious disease specialists on the faculty of the University of Vermont's Larner College of Medicine, conclude that children infrequently transmit Covid-19 to each other or to adults and that if schools follow appropriate social distancing guidelines and take into account rates of transmission in their community, can and should reopen in the fall.
 

Read the article: Children rarely transmit COVID-19, doctors write in new commentary


"In a national study that included almost a million emergency room visits, black children in severe pain from acute appendicitis had just one-fifth the odds of receiving opioid painkillers compared with white children, even after adjusting for other factors." This Washington Post article delves into research that shows how racial bias is persuasive in health care, most apparently in the assessment and treatment of pain. 

Read the articleRacial disparities seen in how doctors treat pain, even among children


"According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, 1,397 people experienced homelessness in West Virginia as of January 2019. That number included 79 family households and 89 unaccompanied youth between the ages of 18 and 24." Check out reporter Steven Allen Adam's great article in the Parkersburg News and Sentinel that digs into the challenge of youth homelessness in our state and Senator Manchin's efforts to address it. 

Read the article: Helping to stop the next generation of homelessness in West Virginia


According to a recent study, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) led to significant decline in childhood obesity among children living in poverty. While the results showed no impact of the HHFKA on obesity among students as a whole, an important distinction was found among children living in poverty: The predicted percentage of children with obesity in 2018 was 21% with the HHFKA but would have been expected to be 31% without it. That's a big difference, with researchers concluding, "The original 2010 HHFKA standards should be restored, and efforts to increase participation should be strengthened, to build on the law’s progress in reducing childhood obesity in the United States."

Read the study: Impact Of The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act On Obesity Trends


“I think every student, regardless of disability, needs to have the same opportunities to come to school,” she said. This article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gets to the heart of parental concerns around the country. How do they keep their children with significant health conditions safe at school? This thoughtful piece comes at the issues from several vantage points. 

Read the article: More questions than answers: What will school be like for immunocompromised students?

From some of our favorites
Mission West Virginia has designed a resource page for families who are caring for relative children.  A “relative child” is a child being cared for by a relative, or “Relative Care Provider.” The arrangement may be informal or formal.  
Rescheduled and completely virtual, the 2020 Spring Conference for Social Workers is now scheduled for September 9-11, 2020. Bookmark their registration page and visit back before the end of the month to check out the full schedule and register.  

“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
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