Eduvation Blog

Hair Loss, Heart Damage, Vaping and Quarantrivia

Good morning!

It’s International Youth Day, although I’m not sure the youth of the world have much to celebrate…

We’ve now surpassed 20 million confirmed cases of COVID19 worldwide, and the pandemic’s impact is doubling every six weeks. (That means we’ll be at 40 million cases by mid-September.) Florida has broken its record for daily deaths, four days in a row. The US is responsible for 5.1M cases now, with 3M in Brazil, 313K in the UK, 122K in Canada, 22K in Australia and just 1,500 in NZ. (Although sadly Auckland is back in lockdown just as I’m writing this.)

Promising vaccine news out of Russia is likely nothing more than hype. College athletes are at risk of heart damage. And an unfortunate side-effect of COVID19 often seems to be losing one’s hair.

In CdnPSE, several schools unveil virtual orientations, announce mask policies, or more flexible payment and course drop deadlines. And York U becomes another to announce that the Winter 2021 term will likely continue to be online, until Spring…

Don’t Get Your Hopes Up Nyet

There has been some Russian sabre-rattling about discovering the vaccine that will end this pandemic, but it is likely just dangerous propaganda…

Russia Trumpets “Vaccine”

Yesterday, Russia became the first country to approve a COVID19 vaccine, after tests in just a few dozen patients. There is no proof yet of safety or effectiveness, but Vladimir Putin claims his daughter has already been inoculated, and that mass vaccinations can begin as early as October. (No Russian research has been published, but the US, UK and Canada have accused Russia of stealing their vaccine research using hackers.) Scientists worldwide – including in Russia – are alarmed that the vaccine will be rushed into production without conducting a Phase 3 clinical trial. “The collateral damage from release of any vaccine that was less than safe and effective would exacerbate our current problems insurmountably.” Global

“This is All Beyond Stupid”

Normally, vaccines are among the safest medical products in the world, because they undergo extensive testing for efficacy and safety, usually with 30,000 people of varying ages. There are currently 29 COVID19 vaccine studies underway around the world, and while they have been promising in early stage trials, many could flop before they clear Phase 3 trials. The Russian vaccine Gam-COVID-Vac Lyo underwent a combined Phase 1/2 trial on 38 volunteers in June. No further research has been made public, although a new website claims it will enter Phase 3 trials today with 2,000 people. “This is all beyond stupid,” says a virologist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. “Putin doesn’t have a vaccine, he’s just making a political statement.” New York Times

Talking to Teens

The research is still uncovering the potential impacts of COVID19 on young people. NCAA football players are exhibiting some alarming symptoms. Young vapers seem particularly susceptible to the coronavirus. And while side effects are no laughing matter, they may just catch student attention (or perhaps a trivia game can help)…

Athletes with Heart Damage

Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) has been found in more than 5 NCAA athletes, and may be linked to COVID19. Left untreated, myocarditis can cause heart damage and sudden cardiac arrest – fuelling the decisions of several athletic conferences to cancel football this fall. “Uncertainty about the long-term effects of myocarditis has been discussed in meetings of presidents and chancellors, commissioners and athletic directors, and health advisory board members from the Big Ten, Pac-12 and other conferences around the country.” ESPN

COVID19 Up in Smoke

A new Stanford study has found that young adults aged 13-24 who use e-cigarette products are five times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID19, and those who both vape and smoke cigarettes are seven times more likely to test positive. Scientists assumed that smoking or vaping could make the lungs more susceptible to severe symptoms, but “did not expect it to be this strong of a relationship.” Smokers might also be touching their face more often, or sharing e-cigarettes. “Look, this is a pandemic… this is the time for you to quit and not start vaping.” NeoScope

Tearing Out Your Hair

Alyssa Milano, the 48-year-old actress who starred in Who’s the Boss? (1984-92) and Charmed (1998-2006), has been sharing the symptoms of her “long-hauler” COVID19 symptoms since late March. She describes shortness of breath, confusion, fever, and headaches – despite initially testing negative. After 4 months of progressive symptoms, she actually tested positive for COVID19 antibodies. But Milano may strike a nerve for young people with the video she tweeted on Sunday, showing clumps of her hair falling out. (MADD research uncovered decades ago that the teenage sense of invincibility meant that the risk of death did not discourage drunk driving, but the idea of losing one’s license and depending on parents for rides was shocking.) Global 

A Game that isn’t Trivial

A 3rd-year pre-med student at uWaterloo says she was alarmed by the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories about COVID19, so she created a game called Quarantrivia, in collaboration with the UW Faculty of Science. “The player follows Dr. Pixel through three rounds of multiple choice-questions, which must be answered correctly to destroy COVID-19 and save the Pixel World. KW Record


Virtual Orientation

More and more institutions are promoting online orientation programs for incoming students, typically including videos, webinars, or self-paced online courses. Here are a few recent examples…

Cape Breton U is launching its “StartSmart!” program Aug 17, for new and returning students to learn study skills and digital tools, and connect with faculty, staff and students. A series of videos are available all summer, and some scheduled virtual events are planned starting the last week of August. CBU

uManitoba has launched summer programs to welcome its incoming class of Bisons, including UM Essentials (online orientation), and UM Commons (an online hub to connect students to resources, services, peer tutors, 7 student communities and “countless” clubs). UM is also offering a 3-week Math Boot Camp (Aug 10-28), Prep Week (Aug 31-Sep 4) and Welcome Day (Sep 8). As students complete modules and participate in discussions, they accumulate badges and entries into draws for bookstore prizes and $500 tuition vouchers. uManitoba

North Island College has launched a virtual orientation including “a full suite of online videos, webinars, tours and other resources.” Prerecorded sessions went live last week, and webinars are planned throughout August. Even prospective students can attend, and there’s a chance to win a Google Chromebook. NIC

Yukon U provided more details to students yesterday about the “primarily online” Fall semester, which will be delivered synchronously via Zoom and asynchronously via Moodle, and protocols for returning to campus. “At this time, we anticipate the Winter and Spring 2021 semesters will be the same.” A new Connect2YukonU team brings together staff from Admissions, Student Services and the Academic Support Centre to serve current and prospective students in one spot. YukonU

Campus Updates

UBC has ordered 25,000 reusable cloth face masks and will distribute them on campus, but it is taking PHO direction and therefore not mandating masks on campus at this time. CBC

uOttawa has launched mandatory online training regarding self-assessment, hand hygiene and social distancing “for the limited few returning to campus this fall.” Masks are required in all enclosed public spaces, and a new COVID19 testing facility “may be in place during the first weeks of return to campus.” uOttawa

Queen’s U expects just 6,600 students on campus this Fall, rather than the usual 24,000, or about 27%. Residences will operate at about half capacity. Queen’s is using WFH and online delivery to decrease density on campus wherever possible. Whig-Standard

Queen’s U is making tuition and fee payments, award disbursements and course registration processes more flexible, including extended payment deadlines (Sep 30) and fall course drop dates, and waiving late fees and interest on unpaid balances. Queen’s

Simon Fraser U “requests” that all visitors to campus wear non-medical masks indoors, starting this week. SFU-branded cloth face masks will be made available soon. CBC

uVic is not requiring masks be worn on campus at this time, “unless physical distancing cannot be maintained.” Masks are “a matter of personal choice and may help to protect others.” CBC

York U’s Senate executive has extended the Fall course planning principles to include the Winter 2021 term: preparing for remote delivery by default. “We expect most employees will continue to work from home throughout the Fall and Winter terms.” YorkU


Thanks for reading!  Stay safe and be well…

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