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America start

America is about to start online learning, Round 2. For millions of students, it won’t be any better. – The Washington Post

That includes 700,000 students in California alone. Come fall, these children won’t log on for school because they don’t have computers.

“I remember people speaking of the Fourth of July as if everything would be fine by the Fourth of July, and life would be back to normal,” said Casey Allen, superintendent of Ballard County Schools in Kentucky, which is offering parents a choice between in-person and online school.

Now, he said, “We will be building the plane while we fly it, on virtual learning.”

Complicating matters further was the politicization of school openings. President Trump insisted in all-caps tweets that schools must fully reopen in the fall so the economy could as well, even as coronavirus cases and deaths piled up throughout the country.

The leaders of the country’s more than 13,000 school districts found themselves caught between the warnings of health officials that nothing should reopen without proper safety measures, and demands from Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that schools start back up as normal. Education leaders warned politicians they would need billions of federal dollars in aid to reopen safely, but that money has yet to be approved by Congress. Pressure from teachers unions built as well, with some unions demanding an all-virtual program and threatening to strike if forced to step back inside the classroom.

“Unfortunately, we lost a lot of time in playing those political games,” said Bob Farrace, spokesman for the nonprofit National Association of Secondary School Principals. “There hasn’t been nearly enough conversation about what learning is really going to look like.”

Nonetheless, many school officials say they are still planning to grade students as they did before the pandemic, ditching the pass-fail system many adopted during school closures. Despite the device and Internet gaps, they plan to require attendance in classes. Federally mandated standardized testing is also still slated to take place near the end of the school year — unlike this past spring, when DeVos gave permission for all states to skip it.

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan said he feels good about the fall, despite everything. But he admitted that view has little basis in fact.

“I say that because I am by nature an optimistic person,” he said. “I don’t look for the negatives.”

‘Teachers are creative’

When the last school year ended, many people thought the worst for schools was over. It wasn’t.

As the coronavirus crisis worsened in many parts of the country, district leaders found themselves over the summer not focusing on improving instruction but instead playing logistical Jenga.

Required by state officials to provide learning options for parents, superintendents and their planning teams devised complicated, in-depth scenarios for three different modes of learning — all-virtual, 100 percent in-person and a hybrid method that combined both.

By late July, as spiking coronavirus rates led district after district to abandon plans to reopen schools for the start of the 2020-2021 academic year, school leaders said they had not found time to give much if any thought to the mechanics of online learning — even though they were giving parents the option of keeping their children home.

Politics, especially Trump’s interventions, made things worse.

In Wisconsin, Deputy State Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael Thompson said that many school officials had to spend precious time dealing with politically charged parent unrest. Almost any decision taken by school officials, he said — down to whether administrators recommended wearing masks in classrooms — was interpreted as siding with one political party or another.

That left educators less able to focus on more important matters, Thompson said, such as ensuring student and staff safety and developing strategies for fall learning.

“The politics making its way into this situation has made it harder for school districts . . . and divided communities,” he said. “And it was a difficult enough situation already.”

The extensive debate over in-person vs. online learning also limited some teachers’ ability to plot what their virtual schoolrooms could and should look like in September.

In Fairfax County, Va. — whose 189,000 students make it one of the largest school systems in the nation — Superintendent Scott Brabrand at first debuted a plan that asked parents and educators to choose between in-person and online education. Teachers spent weeks agonizing over the decision to return to classrooms. Then, a few days after staffers formally submitted their preferences, Brabrand reversed himself and announced the school system would start the fall fully online.

Now, thousands of Fairfax teachers are scrambling to get ready for the start of school, which was recently pushed back a week to Sept. 8.

In Philadelphia, things went even closer to the wire. The school board announced in late July that it was pivoting to an all-virtual model, after weeks of protest from parents and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, who saw in-person instruction as unsafe. The teachers union there had been so consumed with advocating for teacher and student health, said Jordan, that many members had no time to ponder the details of online teaching.

“That is exactly our next focus,” he said, noting that he plans to meet with administrators to call for increased online training for staffers. “Although I can bet you money some teachers were already beginning to prepare on their own. . . . Teachers are creative.”

In Florida’s Duval County, where the Republican National Convention was set to take place in August until Trump canceled it, a top public schools official was planning to ask the Florida Department of Education for permission to begin the school year entirely online. Then he realized that was an impossible request: Of the district’s 130,000 students, more than 40,000 don’t have devices at home to do their work. So schools will have to open there for some students.

In his small, conservative slice of Kentucky, Ballard County’s Allen is also hoping teachers are making their own preparations for fall — especially if they will be teaching online, as some of the staff will do depending on demand. The district is offering families a choice between in-person and distance learning, and at least a quarter of the county’s 1,100 students have already picked the virtual option, more than Allen was expecting.

School staff are slated to return to campus in August, the superintendent said, and he plans to take stock of what teachers have accomplished then.

“I fully expect some people will have done a better job than we ever imagined,” he said. “But then I know there are going to be others we need to bring along.”

Allen, who describes himself as “technologically limited,” has tried to communicate his expectations to Ballard County teachers via YouTube videos throughout the summer. He knows how to film those but asks an assistant to post them on social media.

In the videos, the superintendent lists his one real requirement: That teachers do the best they can with what they have. Whatever that looks like.

“For instance I haven’t said, don’t post your lessons on Facebook,” Allen said. “If it’s a format that is working for students and teachers, I am going to leave it.”

‘Caught up by Christmas’

There are some bright spots in the education landscape — which now looks as though it will include some online learning in most places, to give parents options. The districts that say they are ready followed the same recipe: Early and lengthy preparations for online learning, coupled with an intense focus on teacher training.

That was the case in Atlanta, where the public school system will offer all-virtual school starting Aug. 24. On that day, 52,000 students will begin receiving 2½ to 5 hours of video instruction each day, as well as social and emotional learning to help them process pandemic-induced trauma. Teachers are attending optional professional training sessions on subjects ranging from Zoom to how to virtually reach students with disabilities, and all Atlanta educators will be required to take two-week seminars on similar topics in late August.

Atlanta waited until mid-July to announce formal plans to remain online-only for at least the first nine weeks of this academic year. But, said Superintendent Lisa Herring, the school division began girding for the likelihood of an all-virtual fall back in May.

“Unfortunately, we have . . . employees and students and families who’ve had loss and trauma and illness as a result of covid-19,” Herring said, referring to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. “That reality brought it to the forefront that our level of preparedness had to be executed sooner rather than later.”

A handful of other districts have made extensive preparations. In Florida’s Broward County Public Schools, which began building its online learning capabilities years ago, Superintendent Robert Runcie said teachers have been working for months to beef up their online academic lessons and train on the online Canvas platform that helps simulate in-class learning. To make it easier for parents of young children, there will be morning and afternoon/evening learning sessions for elementary school students.

The 147,000-student Charlottesville-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina spent the summer transferring its in-person courses onto a virtual platform in new ways that teachers hope will better capture students’ attention. In San Diego, officials unveiled a digital program July 30 that mimics a six-hour school day, with daily live interaction between students and teachers. In Wyoming, schools Superintendent Jillian Balow asked a virtual state school to give teachers tips on how to do their jobs online.

But levels of preparation vary drastically. In Seattle, for example, teachers had not started training for online education as of early August. And across the country, student engagement remains a challenge.

In Los Angeles, just 60 percent of students participated daily in online learning during the spring, according to Los Angeles Unified Schools Superintendent Austin Beutner. To boost attendance this fall, the state is requiring teachers to report absences and to develop outreach programs to locate students who lag in attendance.

Los Angeles mother Sharnell Blevins said she hopes the mandatory attendance, coupled with more live-video classes, will help. She recalled the spring as a disaster.

“My kids weren’t setting their alarm clocks to get up for class,” she said. “They would tell me, ‘Half the class isn’t there, Mom, I don’t have to go.’ ” And she also often watched students in her children’s high school classes teach their teachers how to use Zoom.

As for the federal funding that district leaders say they need to reopen school buildings when health conditions allow, Congress doesn’t appear close to a compromise. In March it provided $13.5 billion for K-12 education — but that isn’t anywhere near the more than $200 billion that school leaders say they need.

In late July, just weeks before the start of the school year, the U.S. Department of Education disbursed $180 million to 11 states to help them prepare for virtual learning. Recipients were chosen through an application process that asked states to propose “new, innovative ways to access education” online.

Texas was one of the winners. The state’s deputy commissioner of school programs, Lily Laux, said the money, totaling nearly $20 million, will go toward developing training for more than 300,000 teachers, as well as building out new virtual courses covering “core subjects” for prekindergarten through 12th grade, with a special focus on reading and math for English language learners.

Unfortunately, it came a little too late.

“We have shared with our superintendent [that the courses] are not going to be fully ready for this fall,” Laux said. “But we do hope to be caught up by Christmas.”

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-game start

Big Ten to start 10-game conference slate on Sept. 3; Michigan-Ohio State to be Oct. 24 – ESPN

9:03 AM ET

  • Adam RittenbergESPN Senior Writer

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    • College football reporter.
    • Joined ESPN.com in 2008.
    • Graduate of Northwestern University.

The Big Ten will play a 10-game, conference-only football schedule that begins Labor Day weekend and includes ample flexibility, the league announced Wednesday morning.

Each team has two open weeks, and the schedule has four weeks built in to reschedule games, including a leaguewide open week on Nov. 28. The model allows for opening games on the weekend of Sept. 3-5 to be moved to Sept. 12, Sept. 19 or Sept. 26 “through strategic sequencing.”

The regular season is set to wrap up Nov. 21, and the league championship game is set for Dec. 5 with the ability to move back to as late as Dec. 19.

The football schedule starts as early as the weekend of Sept. 5 with final games slated for Nov. 21 to align with academic calendars. The Big Ten Football Championship Game remains scheduled for Dec. 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium, though it could be moved as late as Dec. 19. pic.twitter.com/vWp3OSifBc

— Big Ten Conference (@bigten) August 5, 2020

Michigan and Ohio State will face each other Oct. 24 — the first time since 1942 that the rivals will not play at the end of the regular season. The IndianaPurdue game, pitting rivals from opposite divisions, will take place Nov. 21.

Big Ten teams can open preseason training camp Friday or earlier, depending on the date of their first game. Ohio State will open camp Thursday.

Commissioner Kevin Warren reiterated there’s “no guarantee” that sports will be played this fall during the coronavirus pandemic, but they had to put a schedule in place “just for planning purposes.”

“I’m looking at this as really a day-to-day decision-making process,” Warren told ESPN. “… I feel good today and comfortable to release a schedule, and I feel good today and comfortable to have our teams start to increase their practice, but we’re gathering medical information on a daily basis. … We understand we are in a pandemic and I think it’s important that we’ve remained disciplined up to this point and we continue to remain disciplined and methodical and very balanced in our approach to a potential fall sports season in the Big Ten.”

Warren said there is enough flexibility built into the schedule that if an entire team had to quarantine for two weeks, it would be able to.

“We’ve got to remain nimble, we’ve got to be balanced, we’ve got to remain agile, and we’ve got to remain flexible,” Warren said. “That’s what we’ve tried to do, and if it works … time will tell, but we feel comfortable as far as where we are.”

The schedule allows for 41 of the 70 games to be moved to an open week, and features two groupings of open weeks. Scheduling flexibility was central to the decision to move up typical late-season rivalry games like Michigan-Ohio State.

“I was not focused on certain games,” Warren said. “We know our rivalry games that usually take place at the end of the year are moved around, but I didn’t agonize over moving a game. I’m focused on trying to create these policies and procedures, keep our student-athletes healthy and safe and evaluate this day-by-day. Every game that we have a chance to play if we are so fortunate and blessed, it will be embraced.”

The first and last week of the regular season will feature exclusively cross-division games. Week 10 (Nov. 7) will feature exclusively East Division games except for Illinois at Rutgers, and Week 11 (Nov. 14) will feature West Division games.

The Big Ten initially considered front-loading its schedule with division games. But, because of the odd number of teams in each division, it decided to open the season with cross-division games instead. In adding a 10th league game, the Big Ten didn’t want cross-division opponents that teams were already set to face in 2021.

“It was something we were front and center about and asked all the athletic directors: ‘Is this something, if it allows us to have more flexibility to move things around if needed, you’re OK to have those games be placed in a different portion than when they normally would be played?’ assistant commissioner Kerry Kenny told ESPN.

“The answer across the board from them was: ‘Let’s try to let’s keep flexibility as the primary focus of this year’s schedule. We’ll adjust to the outcomes of what that flexibility provides once it’s in there.'”

Several division games, including Michigan State at Michigan on Oct. 3, will take place at the same site as 2019 to enhance overall flexibility for the schedule, Kenny said. The sites will shift in 2021 as a normal home-and-home rotation resumes.

“Everybody has a bye in Weeks 5, 6 or 7, and everybody has a bye in either [Week] 10 or 11,” Kenny said. “The flips, and just the ability to have the divisional games really spread throughout that middle portion of the season, really gave us the opportunity, if we need to, to move a singular game out of a particular week into one of those bye weeks because of a rescheduling process. That’s the flexibility that I’m talking about.”

The Big Ten also announced medical protocols, including twice-weekly testing for COVID-19. The league will use a third-party laboratory to conduct centralized testing and “consistency in surveillance and pre-competition testing.”

“From a science perspective, a medical perspective and also — to a much lesser extent, but one that had to be considered — a competitive perspective, how can we ensure that everybody is on equal footing, in terms of the minimum requirements for testing?” Kenny said. “We think that sets us up to have a consistent approach.”

Warren said at this time he didn’t not know how much the conference-wide testing plan would cost.

The Big Ten on July 9 became the first FBS conference to reveal a general scheduling model, saying that all of its fall sports, including football, would operate with a league-only slate. But the league had held off on announcing specifics for football as it evaluated medical information about the coronavirus pandemic.

Maryland announced Wednesday that it was preparing to begin the season without spectators in attendance, but “it is our hope that we may be able to welcome some fans to home games as the season progresses and health conditions permit.”

ESPN’s Heather Dinich contributed to this report.

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start Vaccinating

Start Vaccinating Now! – Forbes

BRAZIL-CHINA-HEALTH-VIRUS-VACCINE-TRIAL

Sao Paulo State Governor Joao Doria displays a box of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by the Chinese … [+] company Sinovac Biotech at the Hospital das Clinicas (HC) in Sao Paulo State, during its trial stage, during a press conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on July 21, 2020 amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. – The vaccine trial will be carried out in Brazil in partnership with the Brazilian Research Institute Butanta. (Photo by Nelson ALMEIDA / AFP) (Photo by NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP via Getty Images)


AFP via Getty Images

Development of new Covid-19 vaccines is proceeding at a furious pace, which is good news for the world. We already have two vaccines in phase 3 trials in the US and Europe; each of these trials which will vaccinate many thousands of people, and then wait to see how many get infected. If the vaccines work, then in a few months’ time we’ll be able to start large-scale production.

But we don’t have to wait. Both of these vaccines (from Moderna and Oxford University/Astra Zeneca) have already been shown, in phase 1 trials, to be safe and probably effective. That’s why the companies are moving ahead and giving each vaccine to 30,000 more people: they are fairly confident that the vaccines are safe. The NY Times reports that 3 other Covid-19 vaccines are also in phase 3 trials: one from BioNTech and Pfizer, and two from Chinese companies, Sinopharm and Sinova Biotech.

So why not start administering millions of doses right now? We should.

In fact, an Indian vaccine manufacturer is already moving ahead with large-scale production. The Serum Institute, run by Indian billionaire Adar Poonawalla, is manufacturing hundreds of millions of doses of the Oxford vaccine, before it gets final approval, investing its own money and taking a chance that the vaccine will work.

Why aren’t we doing the same thing in the U.S. and Europe? As I see it, there are two things holding us back:

1. Money. Making hundreds of millions of doses of a vaccine is expensive, and if the vaccine doesn’t succeed in phase 3 trials, that money will have been wasted. I can see why the private companies running these trials might not be able to proceed with large-scale production. This is where the government can step in: just buy the vaccines in advance! We’re already doing this on a fairly large scale anyway: the US recently announced that it was paying Novavax $1.6 billion to cover all stages of its clinical trials plus the manufacture of 100 million doses, long before the vaccine has been approved.

Given that the U.S. alone has already spent well over $3 trillion (that’s 3000 times a billion, for those who are counting) to bail out the economy, with at least another $1 trillion to come, a few billion dollars more to manufacture vaccines–even if the vaccines don’t work–seems like a great investment.

2. Excessive caution. The normal process for vaccine testing and approval requires 3 phases. In phases 1 and 2, we carefully test for safety and try to determine the best dose. Even though a vaccine might seem effective after these phases, the number of people being tested is small, and we need larger numbers to be confident that the vaccine works. That’s what phase 3 tells us.

So the current phase 3 plans for these vaccines work like this: identify a large number of people (30,000 in at least one of the trials) and give half of them the vaccine, and give the other half a placebo. Then wait for a few months and see how many people get Covid-19. If the vaccine is working, then we’ll see that significantly fewer people in the vaccinated group get sick.

Great. We should definitely do this, and we are.

But we’re in the midst of the worst pandemic since 1918. The careful, step-by-step vaccine approval regimen wasn’t designed for a global emergency, in which every day of delay means that thousands of people die.

We already know that the vaccines in phase 3 trials are safe–otherwise it would be unethical to give the vaccine to 30,000 people, as these trials are doing. (Note: phase 3 trials sometimes uncover safety issues that affect only a small percentage of people–issues that might not appear in smaller phase 1/2 trials. So phase 3 also assesses safety, on a larger scale.) Weighing the risks versus the benefits, I think we should immediately ramp up production, using government funds rather than private money, and then offer these vaccines for free to anyone who wants them.

Of course we’ll have to educate anyone who wants the vaccine that we don’t know for sure if it works. No one will be forced to take it, but I’m guessing that millions of people will be eager to try. And yes, there’s a chance that the vaccines won’t work very well, and maybe this will create greater distrust when we eventually do get a good vaccine. But that’s a risk we ought to take, given the greater harm caused by delays. The evidence for these trial vaccines is already better than for most of the actual treatments we’re giving people–and most importantly, we know they are safe.

So let’s start vaccinating millions of people now, as soon as we can ramp up production. I’ll be first in line to try either the Moderna or the Oxford vaccine, as soon as it’s ready.

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start things

Five Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day – Bloomberg

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schedule start

UFC 251 start time, TV schedule for Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal – MMA Fighting


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The UFC 251 start time and TV schedule for the Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal event at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi on Saturday night is below.

The fight card is broken into three different parts and airs on two different mediums. This post will help explain which fights are airing where and at which times.

The card kicks off with an eight-bout preliminary card on ESPN and ESPN+ at 6 p.m. ET.

Undercard (ESPN/ESPN+ at 6 p.m. ET)

Marcin Tybura vs. Maxim Grishin

Raulian Paiva vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov

Karol Rosa vs. Vanessa Melo

Davey Grant vs. Martin Day

The card then moves to ESPN at 8 p.m. ET.

Volkan Oezdemir vs. Jiri Prochazka

Elizeu Zaleski vs. Muslim Salikhov

Makwan Amirkhani vs. Danny Henry

Leonardo Santos vs. Roman Bogatov

The main card will be on ESPN+ pay-per-view.

Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway

Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo

Jessica Andrade vs. Rose Namajunas

Amanda Ribas vs. Paige VanZant

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Moderna start

Moderna set to start final-stage trial of its coronavirus vaccine by July – TechCrunch

Pharmaceutical company Moderna told Bloomberg on Thursday that it’s on pace to begin the final-stage clinical trial of its vaccine for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 by July. Moderna was the first company to begin human clinical trials of its vaccine candidate in the U.S., and the last stage of its study will include 30,000 people and be conducted in partnership with the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

The aim of the study will be to show definitive clinical proof that Moderna’s vaccine actually does prevent people from developing COVID-19, and, secondarily, that it prevents at least severe symptoms and cases that require hospitalization from materializing. Moderna’s second-stage clinical trial kicked off last month, and the company has previously said that it could potentially begin offering experimental doses available to healthcare workers in limited capacities as early as this fall.

The pace of development of a number of leading vaccine candidates is actually moving just as quickly, if not more quickly. Johnson & Johnson said earlier this week that it would start trials of its vaccine later in July, while AstraZeneca and its research and development partner the University of Oxford will be entering its own final-stage clinical trials this month.

Moderna’s vaccine candidate is an mRNA vaccine, which is a technology that essentially provides instructions to healthy cells to produce antibodies to the coronavirus, without having to actually introduce any of the active or inactive virus itself. mRNA vaccines, while used in veterinary medicines, are relatively new technology and have not yet been approved for use in human patients, but they represent a number of the early vaccine attempts, because of their advantages in terms of speed of development and the lessened theoretical health risk they pose to people, including early trial participants.

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SpaceX start

Why should we care about SpaceX? | Start Here – Al Jazeera English











Published on 1 Jun 2020

Space Flight Goes Commercial | Start Here

Billionaires have a way of shaking things up. Just look at Elon Musk and how his company, SpaceX, just became the first private enterprise to put people into orbit.

Musk wants to make space travel like air travel. On top of that SpaceX also wants to rocket people between cities. “Anywhere in under an hour” — that’s their sales pitch.

Will Musk and SpaceX succeed? How long until we can board a rocket ourselves? And where’s it all heading?

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