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Berklee moves to online classes due to Covid-19 spike

Berklee College canceled classes today and is moving classes remaining until Thanksgiving to remote learning due to a spike of Covid-19 cases this week.

Essential campus operations will remain open under current masking protocols, including residence halls and dining facilities. Administrative offices will remain in operation, and student appointments with staff and faculty can occur remotely during this time.

For the week ending Tuesday, the school reported 37 positive Covid-19 tests - 29 of those on Monday and Tuesday of this week.

The school says 96.9% of people on its campus have been fully vaccinated.


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notably the opera La clemenza di Tito at Boston Conservatory, a stage play called Everybody, and possibly other shows and recitals.

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More sax offenders

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What is a "spike" relative to normal cases in a given week?

If schools can't be normal with nearly total vaccination, it will never be again. Maybe in this instance it is a good thing to do before holidays…

Still, I am particularly sorry for any college (or grade) student over the coming years if that is the reality. At some point, we have to admit to ourselves what the new normal is going to be (endemic) and adapt our expectations appropriately.

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want to quell the spread now because everyone is going home Tuesday/Wednesday of next week. They don't want to be responsible for holding hundreds of infected kids back in Boston over break while sending thousands of presymptomatic kids on buses, trains, and airplanes over the river and through the woods to infect Grandma.

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Things might be different for a music school, where in the normal course of business there is singing and playing of wind instruments...guessing?

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These students are disproportionally affected when switching to online teaching. Not much is lost when a math or history class switches to zoom. When a long-planned concert is cancelled or you can't practice with an ensemble, it's a much bigger setback. (Yes, getting seriously sick is worse.)

But I'm sure Berklee is doing what's best for their program and I wouldn't second guess them.

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"Not much is lost when a math or history class switches to zoom."

I don't think that is really something one can claim one way or the other. I think evidence shows that a lot is lost when not in person (either in a class, or just general campus life itself -- although a subset certainly does better online).

This is ultimately the entire contention with US handling of COVID, particularly in grade school, relative to places like Europe. Masking is damaging for the development of very young children, and many students are suffering incredibly attempting to switch online.

Again, maybe less so for college students, but its certainly not cost-free and the degree of the cost is very much up for debate.

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What is a "spike" relative to normal cases in a given week?

The 29 cases in 2 days. Unless they were all in a common unit (say, everyone in a particular chorus or ensemble), there's an undetected breakthrough case that's infecting everyone else.

WarriorTeen's school had to send a class remote last week when first 2, then another, then another tested positive; now their siblings are also testing positive, so all siblings of the positive cases are also remote. The cases were all in students under age 12, so they couldn't have been vaxxed in time to prevent this.

The good news is, in modern times, you can go remote for 10 days and stop the spread altogether.

This stuff is not new: back in 1980, my dorm wouldn't let anyone return from XMas break without a fresh MMR vaccine. The university had an outbreak during Finals, and we didn't have laptops and WiFi (this was Sinclair kit computer days). People missed the first week of classes because they were refused entry (Uni changed locks, required check-in with vax record at Residence Life to get new keys; class registration required vax record to confirm your classes).

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Ultimately there's a chart

7 day positivity rates:

Boston higher ed: .19%
Berklee: .59%
Boston: w/ higher ed: .89%
MA: 2.84%
Boston w/o higher ed: 2.89%

So it's indeed 3x the previous rate of .18%, but still dramatically lower than the regional norm. Which again comes back to the point of whether this will be the reality for students for the rest of time or not given 0% is likely impossible.

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