COVID Brief: Pandemic to Blame for Increase in Toddler Speech Delays

A weekly roundup of headlines about how the pandemic is shaping schools and education policy, vetted by AEI Visiting Fellow John Bailey

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This is our biweekly briefing on the pandemic, vetted by John Bailey. See the full archive.

This Week’s Top Story

If Your Toddler Isn’t Talking Yet, the Pandemic Might Be to Blame

  • “Babies and toddlers are being diagnosed with speech and language delays in greater numbers, part of developmental and academic setbacks for children of all ages after the pandemic. Children born during or slightly before the pandemic are more likely to have problems communicating compared with those born earlier, studies show. Speech therapists and doctors are struggling to meet the increased need for evaluation and treatment.”
  • “In an analysis of nearly 2.5 million children younger than 5 years old, researchers … found that for each year of age, first-time speech delay diagnoses increased by an average of 1.6 times between 2018-19 and 2021-22. The highest increase was among 1-year-olds, the researchers said.”
  • “Young children with delayed speech should get treatment as early as possible because children with communication problems tend to have more difficulty in school later on, speech and language experts said.”

The Big Three

Eamonn Fitzmaurice/The 74

Detroit Schools Got $1.3 Billion in COVID Relief. It Might Not Be Enough

  • “With more than half the money already out the door, less than 1% has gone toward bringing students back to classrooms, according to officials, despite two-thirds of the district’s 53,400 students last year missing school at a threshold researchers say puts them academically at risk.”
  • “Detroit is using COVID stimulus money to cover $700 million worth of expenses it typically pays for with its general fund, leaving the saved cash in its reserves with no spending deadline. The size of its general fund has swollen over 500% since stimulus funds began flowing and will be drawn down over the next five years, the district said.”

How School Districts Will Spend the Rest of Their Stimulus Money

  • Nationally representative survey by the EdWeek Research Center
  • “High-poverty school districts (46%) are much more likely to say they plan to spend remaining stimulus aid on addressing learning loss in elementary-grades math than are low-poverty school systems (29%).”
  • “District and school leaders from high-poverty school systems will put a greater priority on learning recovery in secondary-grades math (40%) than will their peers in low-poverty systems (25%).”
  • “K-12 officials from school districts in the Southern U.S. (46%) and Western states (36%) are significantly more likely to spend remaining stimulus money on learning recovery in elementary math than are those based in the Midwest (24%) and Northeast (21%).”

Public Support Wanes for COVID Vaccine Mandates

  • “Americans are much more confident in routine childhood vaccines than COVID-19 shots, but support for vaccine requirements in schools has slipped from pre-pandemic levels, according to a new Pew Research Center study.”
  • “What [Pew researchers] found: 88% of Americans believe the benefits of childhood vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella outweigh the risks, compared to 62% who have the same views about COVID-19 vaccines.”
  • Axios has more details.

Federal Updates

Department of Health and Human Services: Announced “Children and Youth Resilience Challenge.” Innovative, community-led solutions to advance the mental health of children and youth. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

COVID-19 Research

The U.S. Intelligence Community’s Annual Threat Assessment

  • “Now entering its fourth year, the COVID-19 pandemic remains one of the most significant threats to global public health, at a cost of more than 6.5 million lives lost and trillions of dollars in lost economic output to date.”
  • “In addition to direct effects of the pandemic, resultant economic, human security, political and national security implications of COVID-19 continue to strain recovery efforts, presenting both known and unforeseen challenges that probably will ripple through society and the global economy during the next year and for years to come.”
  • “Countries globally remain vulnerable to the emergence or introduction of a novel pathogen that could cause a devastating new pandemic.”
  • “The [intelligence community] continues to investigate how SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, first infected humans, maintaining a Community of Interest across agencies.”

Death Rates in COVID ICU Patients 69% Higher Than for Flu

City & State News

Kansas: Governor vetoes bill to strip power from public health officials on vaccines, quarantines.

New York: NYC school suspensions spike 27% during the first half of the school year.

Rhode Island: “The Barrington School Committee has reached a settlement with three teachers who were fired for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.”

  • “Brittany DiOrio, Stephanie Hines and Kerri Thurber will each receive a payment of $33,333, a spokesperson for the school district announced. … Additionally, they will receive back pay: $65,000 for Hines, $128,000 for Thurber and $150,000 for DiOrio. The three teachers’ legal counsel will receive $50,000 in attorney’s fees.”

Utah: State got $1 billion in pandemic relief to support K-12 kids. Here’s where the money’s going.

Viewpoints and Resources

Attendance Playbook: Smart Solutions for Reducing Student Absenteeism Post-Pandemic: Via FutureEd with 86 pages of promising solutions. 

With New Grants, 5 States Could Lead the Way to Widespread, Effective Tutoring: Via Kevin Huffman

High-Dosage Tutoring is Still Hard. Here’s What Schools Have Learned: Via Chalkbeat

Parent Polling: Via EdChoice and MorningConsult

13 Lessons from the COVID Pandemic: NYT essay by the members of Biden-Harris Transition COVID Advisory Board

The End of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: What’s Next?: Via McKinsey

… And on a Lighter Note

Big Sports Weekend:

Disclosure: John Bailey is an adviser to the Walton Family Foundation, which provides financial support to The 74.

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COVID Brief: Pandemic to Blame for Increase in Toddler Speech Delays

A weekly roundup of headlines about how the pandemic is shaping schools and education policy, vetted by AEI Visiting Fellow John Bailey


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