Sustain What: Paths to Safer Schooling in an Unabated Pandemic

August 5, 2020
DESCRIPTION: In an unabated pandemic, stress is spiking in school districts everywhere as officials, educators and families balance the need to resume effective learning with the urgent need to safeguard personal and public health.

Explore issues and solutions with webcast host Andy Revkin, Columbia University epidemiologist Jeff Shaman, Harvard infectious disease researcher Pardis C. Sabeti, and Todd Brown and Grace Wagler, an innovative educator and a rising senior from Sarasota Military Academy, a Florida charter school where pandemic preparedness has been part of the curriculum since 2016.

Starting this month, the school will be the first testbed for Scout, a web-based symptom-reporting system developed by researchers and technologists in Pardis Sabeti’s lab and networks.

[Learn more:]

In 2018, with the help of Sabeti and her research network, the school began running an app-based exercise, Operation Outbreak, in which a pathogen spreads via Bluetooth from phone to phone and students play the roles of physicians, first responders and decisionmakers.

[Here’s Operation Outbreak:]

Also joining the Sustain What chat is Grace Wagler, a rising senior at the Sarasota academy who has participated in Operation Outbreak exercises.

Notably, the last exercise, in December, played out even as the novel SARS-CoV2 virus was spreading in and from China.

The Operation Outbreak project was named the world’s most innovative hybrid learning program in the 2019/2020 Wharton-QS Reimagine Education Awards.

For more, read the Earth Institute blog post “When and How Should Schools Reopen?” for more from Shaman and Irwin Redlener, a physician and founding director of Columbia’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness.

Shaman’s research group is here:

Sabeti’s Lab is here:

Sabeti is also passionate about fostering secondary and primary school statistical literacy. Here’s a series she narrated for Annenberg Learner on real-world statistics:

Here’s a National Geographic Society video with more on her outreach and research: