Spring 2021

Making headlines

Dedication and inspiration > Veteran kindergarten teacher Kelly Klein is facing ovarian cancer again, five years after her original diagnosis. This time, she’s not taking a leave of absence. She would miss teaching too much. So one day a month, Klein packs up her laptop and the rest of her virtual classroom and holds class from her chemotherapy chair at M Health Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming, Minn. “What better way to spend four or five hours than with 5-year-olds? It makes the time pass quickly, and it makes me smile,” she told CBS Evening News in January. Klein says her dream is for one of her students to find a cure for cancer.

U infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm, Ph.D., M.P.H., was named to President Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board in November.

Not over yet > As COVID-19 vaccines roll out and many Americans start to feel a sense of relief, U of M infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm, Ph.D., M.P.H., warns that the pandemic is far from over. And that’s because the virus has mutated, spinning off strains that may spread more quickly and threatening herd immunity. “All indications are that these variants of the virus could be a significant challenge to the vaccine,” Osterholm told Newsweek in January. “Without a doubt that’s potentially the most overwhelming problem we face.” Osterholm, a Regents Professor and McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health, was named to President Joe Biden’s 13-member COVID-19 Advisory Board in November.

Are the kids OK? > It’s no secret that people are feeling a heightened sense of health anxiety during the pandemic. Parents’ worries can trickle down to children, too. But don’t pretend everything is fine, advised U Lindahl Leadership Professor and clinical psychologist Abigail Gewirtz, Ph.D., in a February New York Times article. Instead, listen to children’s fears and reassure them that many people are working to keep them safe. “I’m a strong believer in the family meal as a way to check in and provide some emotion coaching about what is happening,” Gewirtz said. If worry interferes with a child’s daily life—if it affects their sleep or eating, or if it’s keeping them out of school—parents should consult a pediatrician.