Sept. 1: A Virtual Conversation with Betsy Ladyzhets, Founder & Editor-in-Chief, COVID-19 Data Dispatch

How Five School Districts Kept Their Communities Safe from COVID-19

A Virtual Conversation with Elizabeth (Betsy) Ladyzhets, Founder & Editor-in-Chief,
COVID-19 Data Dispatch

Wednesday, September 1, at 7 PM EDT on Zoom

Science Writers in New York is pleased to present Betsy Ladyzhets, (@betsyladyzhets), founder and editor-in-chief of the COVID-19 Data Dispatch, which explores the state of COVID-19 data in the United States.

Learn what the major public health agencies are up to, which new resources are coming online, and how to use data to understand the pandemic’s impact on your community. She will discuss with SWINY co-chair David Levine (@dlloydlevine) how five school districts kept their communities safe from COVID-19.

Reopening debates have dominated headlines. In August 2020, images of maskless crowds in Georgia’s Cherokee County School District went viral on social media — and the school quarantined hundreds of students just one week after the semester started. That same month In New York City, teachers brought handmade coffins and a guillotine to a protest against Mayor Bill de Blasio’s reopening plan. Chicago’s schools remained closed through the fall, and the teachers union narrowly avoided a strike during reopening negotiations in early 2021. And districts like Brookline, a liberal Massachusetts suburb, saw parents who are health experts feud with teachers over social distancing, vaccinations, and more.

The divided communities made the news — but not all U.S. schools were fighting grounds. In fact, many districts managed to bring the majority of their students back into classrooms without breeding a dreaded COVID-19 outbreak.

The COVID-19 Data Dispatch (CDD) is sharing stories from these communities. The series will be published in installments: one profile a week for five weeks, followed by a conclusion with overall insights and lessons for fall 2021.

This project fits into a school of reporting called “solutions journalism.” Rather than focusing on uncovering society’s problems, this type of journalism seeks to identify and uplift responses to these problems. In other words, instead of asking, “Why was it so hard to reopen schools in the U.S?”, the CDD is asking, “Which schools did reopen, and what made them successful?” The Solutions Journalism Network — which, as you may guess from the name, is a nonprofit that supports solutions journalism — provided the CDD with a grant to pursue this project, as well as trainings and other guidance.

About Betsy Ladyzhets

Betsy Ladyzhets is an independent data journalist and science writer based in Brooklyn, New York. She runs the COVID-19 Data Dispatch, a publication providing news and resources on tracking the pandemic. Her work has also appeared in Science NewsMIT Technology ReviewThe Open Notebook, and other publications. Previously, she’s worked as a data journalist at Stacker and volunteered at the COVID Tracking Project.

Betsy describes herself as a driven, independent journalist striving to end this pandemic  — and prevent the next one. She works at the intersection of data reporting and science writing, using a variety of storytelling formats to find connections, make complex ideas accessible, educate my fellow journalists, and build community. 

Have a question for Betsy you would like answered?
Submit it here!

Wednesday, September 1
7 to 8 PM EDT


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