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Coronavirus

New Jersey Allows All- Remote for School

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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy talks COVID-19 efforts in a hot spot. Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA/AP

New Jersey may go fully remote for the upcoming school year if they wish.

What We Know:

  • Governor Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that he would allow some districts to offer an all-remote option this fall, backpedaling course due to the rise in protests of the idea in reopening school buildings.
  • Murphy also delivered an executive order clearing K-12 schools and colleges and universities to resume in-person learning at once.

  • With these new guidelines, districts that decide to begin the semester remotely are having to explain why they have not met state health and safety standards to open in person, provide a plan for achieving those standards and provide a date when they will begin in-person instruction.
  • Gov. Murphy stated at his latest coronavirus briefing that they acknowledge that for some districts, there are legitimate and documentable reasons why some of these core health and safety standards can’t be met on day one. He went on to add, “For these districts, today, we are reaffirming our commitment to provide the flexibility for districts to do what is best for their school community.”
  • All this comes amongst the increasing pressure from some local educators, officials, and union leaders to maintain schools closed as COVID-19 continues to affect New Jersey.
  • Gov. Murphy said there is not a one-size-fits-all plan and that they are committed to getting this right. He stated that any student who chooses to continue remote learning has to be accommodated.
  • Some North Jersey districts have already made petitions to go fully remote in the fall. These include Passaic, Elizabeth, Jersey City, and Bayonne. The superintendent said a preparation drill demonstrated it would take hours to check student temperatures as they filed into the high school.
  • Yet, for several districts, meeting state guidelines could be complicated. Willingboro Public School Superintendent Neely Hackett said during Gov. Murphy’s conference that the area faces PPE back-orders and inadequate HVAC systems, pausing the openings of the buildings for next month. In July, district leaders voted to go all-remote for the fall semester and researched ventilation upgrades.

Judith Persichilli, State Health Commissioner, said the Health Department would split the state into six regions to track the virus’ impact on schools, similar to how it manages school surveillance. Persichilli also announced four color-coded risk categories for those regions that will be updated every week and used to inform local decisions.

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Coronavirus

Fan at Chiefs-Texans Game Tests Positive for COVID-19

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A fan who attended the Kansas City Chiefs-Houston Texans game on September 10th has tested positive for the coronavirus.

What We Know:

  • The Kansas City Health Department has confirmed that a person who was in attendance at the NFL season opener at Arrowhead Stadium has tested positive for COVID-19. The department has quarantined 10 other people for possible exposure to the virus as well.
  • The Chiefs were one of the few teams to allow in-person fans for Week 1. The team said that their protocol required all fans and personnel to wear face coverings while inside. Several other NFL teams have stated that they will not allow fans into stadiums for the rest of 2020.
  • The Chiefs defended themselves in their statement, saying that their contact tracing mechanisms and mask mandate limited potential exposure to a single seating zone of the stadium and allowed officials to identify all exposed people. The Chiefs have not made any announcements about allowing spectators for future games.
  • The Chiefs-Texans game was the first NFL game to be held in front of fans. The Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, and Indianapolis Colts are the only teams that allowed fans to be in attendance at the start of the season. Arrowhead Stadium’s capacity is approximately 76,000 and it has been reduced in accordance with coronavirus protocols. Almost 16,000 fans were in attendance for this game.
  • The Chiefs-Texans season opener was also in the news for the scene fans made before the game. Players from both sides held a “moment of unity” pregame and displayed messages supporting Black Lives Matter and racial justice. The fans in attendance could be heard on the broadcast booing the players during this moment.

The NFL has not made any official statements about this positive case of a fan. There is no official league-wide rule about having fans in stadiums. The NFL also announced seven new positive cases among players and team personnel in the latest round of testing.

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Big 10 to Begin Football Season in October

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One of the nation’s power 5 college sports conferences has announced that it will begin its football season next month, a reversal of its decision earlier this summer, CBS Sports reports.

What We Know:

  • Teams in the league will play eight regular-season games as well as a Big Ten Championship game set for December 19th. Their schedule will make them eligible for the College Football Playoff as the season’s final rankings announcement is slated for December 20th. Consolation games will also be played at the conclusion of the season.
  • No tickets will be sold and fans will not be permitted to enter any games. Some exceptions may be made for family members of players, coaches, and staff.
  • In regards to coronavirus safety, the conference will institute mandatory, daily COVID-19 testing for athletes and coaches beginning September 30. If a member of any team tests positive for the virus, the earliest they could return to the field is 21 days following their testing.

The decision follows pressure to resume play, including from President Donald Trump who is eager to see a return to normalcy. No decision has been made from PAC-12 officials regarding a reconsideration. The Big 10’s decision makes them the only power 5 conference not playing college football this year.

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Mayor de Blasio Will Furlough Everyone in Office, Including Himself

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All staff members working in the mayor's office will need to take a week-long furlough unpaid. Courtesy of news.sky.com

The New York City mayor stated that he will mandate everyone who works in his office to take a 5-day unpaid furlough due to a budget shortfall.

What We Know:

  • Mayor Bill de Blasio stated the city had lost $9 billion in revenue because of the coronavirus pandemic. The city has cut the budget by $7 billion, yet cost savings are still needed.

  • The layoffs will start on October 1st and will be extended until March 2021. The Mayor also mentioned he will also be part of the furlough. The unpaid time off is suggested to save about $1 million.
  • The Mayor stated, it is a step that you never want to see for hardworking, good people. He went on to say that it’s with pain he had to announce that employees and their families will have to lose a week’s pay and its something that has to be done.
  • There is a total of about 500 employees in the Mayor’s office. There was already a hiring freeze put in place and other cuts were made to save about $12 million.
  • When de Blasio was asked if there could be a possibility this might be extended to the entire city workforce, he answered that they are looking into all options.
  • Fiscal hawks have called on the city to order more cuts before turning to borrow more money. The city has asked for permission to borrow roughly $5 billion. De Blasio anticipates the furloughs, first reported by The New York Times, would help convince Albany lawmakers he is firm about cutting back.
  • New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo rejected in following the Mayor’s lead in placing himself on furlough and took a swipe at the city’s quality of life.

De Blasio stated decisions such as furloughing other city workers instead of doing layoffs could be taken into consideration. Cuts could also be accomplished by wage freezes or early retirements, although unions would have to agree to such decisions. At the same time, the city has the legal authority to do layoffs unilaterally.

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