Friday, 3 July 2020

AI to solve the COVID riddle?

Just shows how clever (And deadly), nature is...  "coronavirus has a far greater complexity" 

Computer scientists are using massive computational power against the pandemic. They say the enemy they are fighting is unlike any other.

"Compared to other viruses that we have worked on, for instance, the Zika virus, the coronavirus has far greater complexity. It is composed of many more proteins, that have very different biological roles,” says Andrea Beccari, a computer scientist for bio-pharmaceutical company DompĂ© and Project Coordinator for the E4C Project.

The team taking part in this European research project are trying to identify molecules that can block the progression of the virus inside the human body. The problem is researchers are having to explore a huge library of around 500 billion molecules.

To identify the most promising candidates in the shortest possible time, the scientists have turned to supercomputers. These can process up to 3 million molecules per second.

"Computers are essential, as we’re able to work at the same time with all 25 proteins of the virus which are involved in the various mechanisms related to infection, replication and block the human immune system - everything in a simultaneous way," explains Beccari.

Near Me access...

Video conferencing technology is helping to ease the vulnerability deaf people have been experiencing during the pandemic. Many deaf people in Scotland are more socially isolated now than before the coronavirus crisis because of the additional communications barriers forced on them by the lockdown.

And the chief officer of deafscotland – a leading organisation for deaf issues in Scotland – believes their problems would have been compounded had the use of video consulting in health and care services not been stepped up during the pandemic.

Janis McDonald said Covid-19 is a “communications virus” that is having a significant impact on many people affected by deafness. The use of face masks muffles the voice and covers the mouth, preventing lip-reading, and physical distancing created barriers beyond the effective one-metre range of hearing aids.

However, she believes the Near Me video consulting system now being extensively used in Scotland is helping to ease the vulnerability deaf people have been experiencing during the pandemic.

“Like everyone else, people with a hearing loss need access to healthcare but that would have been extremely difficult without video conferencing,” she said, alluding to the fact that there were now far fewer face-to-face consultations with doctors and other health and care professionals, and telephone consultations weren’t really an option for many deaf people.

“Near Me has provided a vital lifeline to health services and we would welcome its continued use when the current crisis ends.”

School and the deaf child advice.

Department for Education accounts 'not true and fair' - BBC News
DfE in England has today published more detailed guidance on how education settings will re-open. 

As we all know, the expectation is that schools in ENGLAND will re-open full time to everyone in September. The key headline for us is that there’s a clear statement that peripatetic TODs should be allowed to go into schools: 

Supply teachers, peripatetic teachers and/or other temporary staff can move between schools. They should ensure they minimise contact and maintain as much distance as possible from other staff. Specialists, therapists, clinicians and other support staff for pupils with SEND should provide interventions as usual. 

Schools should consider how to manage other visitors to the site, such as contractors, and ensure site guidance on physical distancing and hygiene is explained to visitors on or before arrival. Where visits can happen outside of school hours, they should. A record should be kept of all visitors. 

Where it is necessary to use supply staff and to welcome visitors to the school such as peripatetic teachers, those individuals will be expected to comply with the school’s arrangements for managing and minimising risk, including taking particular care to maintain distance from other staff and pupils. There’s also a clear line that teaching assistants should not be redeployed at the expense of children with SEND. 

Schools should ensure that appropriate support is made available for pupils with SEND, for example by deploying teaching assistants and enabling specialist staff from both within and outside the school to work with pupils in different classes or year groups. 

Where support staff capacity is available, schools may consider using this to support catch-up provision or targeted interventions. Teaching assistants may also be deployed to lead groups or cover lessons, under the direction and supervision of a qualified, or nominated, teacher (under the Education (Specified Work) (England) Regulations 2012 for maintained schools and non-maintained special schools and in accordance with the freedoms provided under the funding agreement for academies). Any redeployments should not be at the expense of supporting pupils with SEND. 

A few other points: Lots of emphasis on the risks of children missing education and balancing of risks Attendance will be mandatory unless clinical advice for individual children says otherwise. 

Remote learning should be provided in these cases Curriculum can be modified in exceptional circumstances – but expectation we will return to normal by summer 2021. Exams that were due to take place in summer 2021 can also be dropped in exceptional circumstances for some students if it would help deliver better outcomes in English and Maths Some clear emphasis around the needs of considering needs of children with SEND in the curriculum Schools need to plan how remote learning will be delivered as contingency. DfE are now being more prescriptive here and may produce further guidance. 

There is an acknowledgement that children with SEND may need more support and that schools should plan how this will be provided Ofsted will not be doing any school inspections in autumn, though they may do some random visits to learn how schools are managing Whole School SEND doing some training around SEND and returning to school The Whole School SEND consortium will be delivering some training and how-tos for mainstream school teachers (including free insets and webinars) on supporting pupils with SEND to return to their mainstream school after the long absence, and on transition to other settings. Details of future training sessions are held on the events page of the SEND Gateway. 

You can opt to join Whole School SEND’s community of practice when you sign up for an event to receive notifications about future training and resources as they are published.