Ohio Bill to Increase Access to School Choice Vouchers

The Ohio Senate has passed legislation which increases access to tuition vouchers through Ohio’s Educational Choice Scholarship Program, as well as changes the guidelines for eligible schools.

Ohio’s EdChoice Program allows students from eligible public schools to attend certain private schools and awards up to $4,650 for grades K-8 and $6,000 for grades 9-12, according to the Ohio Department of Education.

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RPS Has Worst Graduation and Dropout Rates in the Commonwealth

Richmond Public Schools (RPS) has both the lowest graduation rate and the highest dropout rate among school districts in the state of Virginia, Superintendent Jason Kamras said.

In the daily RPS direct newsletter for Wednesday, Kamras gave an update on the graduation and dropout rates from the 2019-20 academic year for the school districts high schools. Included within Kamras’ online newsletter was data from a presentation given to the school board on Monday by RPS chief academic officer Tracy Epp.

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Loudoun County Schools Superintendent Announced Sudden Departure for Texas Superintendent Position, Parents in New District React

Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Superintendent Eric Williams announced his departure last week without warning. The Clear Creek Independent School District (CCISD) in Houston, Texas selected Williams as their sole finalist for superintendent in a nationwide search.

LCPS parents and concerned CCISD parents flooded the comments of the official CCISD Facebook page announcement on Williams’ new position. LCPS parents warned CCISD parents that Williams would impose the same social justice initiatives that he’d done while overseeing LCPS, such as through the Minority Student Achievement Advisory Committee (MSAAC).

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Virginia Military Institute Hires First Black Interim Superintendent After Northam Pays $1 Million to Investigate Systemic Racism

The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) hired its first Black superintendent shortly after Governor Ralph Northam allotted $1 million to investigate allegations of systemic racism there. VMI announced the appointment of retired U.S. Army Major General Cedric T. Wins on Friday.

Wins will serve as the interim superintendent at VMI – he is also a 1985 graduate. In his remarks on accepting the interim position with VMI, Wins only had positive words for the institution’s history.

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Loudoun County Schools Clarifies to Parents That White Children Can Participate, But Not Speak as Equity Ambassadors

A Loudoun County Public Schools Equity Advisor told parents that White students may only become equity ambassadors to “amplify the voice of Students of Color.” When the parent asked for in a followup email if their child could discuss the personal accounts of White students, the advisor said no.

“This LCPS endeavor is specific to amplifying the voice of Students of Color by engaging in discussions about their experiences regarding issues of racism, injustice, and inequity. Though all students (white or otherwise) are more than welcome to potentially serve as ambassadors, their focus would be to raise the voice of their classmates of color during these meetings.”

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Parents and Members of Loudoun County Republican Women’s Club Protest Distance Learning

A gathering of parked cars blared their horns as dusk fell over the parking lot. Parents arrived once more on a Tuesday evening to protest against distance learning at the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) board meeting.

After parents finished honking, they joined the meeting so that they can speak to the board directly. November 10th marked the fourth “Honk for Back-to-School” that parents and community members have attended. These individuals continue to protest the total distance learning at LCPS. 

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Virginia Department of Education Leader Accused of Appropriating Government Resources to Speak on Equity at Loudoun County Public Schools

Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Director of Equity and Community Engagement Leah Dozier Walker will moderate a Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) event on equity. Walker also advocates other issues including Black Lives Matter, anti-racism, critical race theory, and social justice. 

Earlier this year, Virginia Inspector General Michael Westfall accused Walker of appropriating government resources to set up her private consulting business. Westfall noted in his report that Walker had accumulated nearly 100 hours of unexplained absences the previous year, as well as offered consulting services that were almost the same as her state duties.

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Governor Lee Grants $5 Million to Charter Schools Based on ‘Significant Academic Growth’

Governor Bill Lee announced Wednesday a $5 million grant for charter schools that had exhibited academic growth. The governor’s Emergency Relief Fund (GEER) will source the funds.

These grant will be referred to as “Charter School Support Grants.” Lee’s decision marked the first grant for charter schools during COVID-19.

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Parents Submit Letter to Betsy DeVos Requesting Civil Rights Investigation into Loudoun Schools

Parents have submitted a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos requesting a civil rights investigation into Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS). These parents requested that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to determine whether LCPS violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and the Constitution, as well as President Donald Trump’s “Executive Order on Combatting Race and Sex Stereotyping.” 
The letter alleged that LCPS engaged in discrimination when it excluded non-Hispanic and non-Black parents from federally-funded focus groups; mandated staff training on “implicit bias,” including white privilege, white supremacy, and unconscious bias; restricted disciplinary action on minority students to make data proportional; and excluded staff and student members from opportunities based on race.

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Non-Colored Students Need Not Apply: Loudoun County Public Schools Initially Barred White Students from Equity Ambassador Program

In the initial draft of a student equity ambassador program informational packet, Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) barred students who weren’t colored from admission into the program.

Under “III. Process for Selecting Student Equity Ambassadors” the second process listing guidelines specifically mentioned students’ skin color as a qualifying factor.

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Henrico Public Schools Adopt Return to Classes Plan, Say Families Must Make Year-long Commitment

The Henrico County School Board adopted a plan last week allowing an optional return to classrooms for younger students later this fall and older students in early 2021, but at a town hall meeting on Tuesday school leaders said whichever choice families make, either virtual or in-person learning, will be a year-long commitment.

While answering submitted questions from parents, Dr. Thomas Ferrell Jr., Henrico director of high school education, brought up the stipulation that families’ choice of learning model would be binding, except for specific instances.

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Student Sues School for Banning Biblical Shirt While Allowing LGBTQ Speech

A Tennessee high school student has filed a lawsuit against Overton County School District (OCS) for banning her Biblical shirt while allowing other free speech. The shirt read: “HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN – 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.” 
OCS claimed that the student’s shirt violated Livingston Academy dress code policy. Although the policy doesn’t define “offensive messages” or “sexual connotations,” Principal Richard Melton determined that the student’s shirt fell under those criteria.

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The Committee Shaping Policy and Curriculum at Loudoun County Public Schools

Behind the scenes at Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS), many of the policy and curriculum changes reflecting social justice initiatives are driven by the Minority Achievement Advisory Committee (MSAAC). MSAAC is an advisory committee under Superintendent Eric Williams and the LCPS School Board.

MSAAC was formed in 1994 to advise and discuss LCPS board and administration on minority student achievement. MSAAC was designed to ensure “advantages in academic, vocational, physical, cultural, and social education” for all students.

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Staunton City Schools Latest to Follow Growing Trend of Creating ‘Equity Committees’

Staunton City Schools (SCS) are developing an equity committee to solve achievement and opportunity disparities between students. The twenty members of the committee will focus on “ensuring equitable practices” within curriculum, teaching, student and parent experiences, school policies, and hiring.
Half of the committee will be comprised of individuals involved in the school, with the other half from the surrounding community.

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Virginia Department of Education Releases New ‘Equity Audit Tool’ as Most Schools Continue Distance Learning

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) released a new “equity audit tool” last week. The tool is part of VDOE’s “Navigating EdEquityVA,” which focuses on providing tools and resources to dismantle inequities in education.

Included within the checklist are evaluations of “anti-racism,” various biases such as gender and ethnic bias, support of racial justice groups like Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Black Power, proportional disciplinary action across races, and equal representation throughout groups and classes.

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Bowling Green Parents Protest, Petition Against School Board Decision to Remain Online

  A group of parents in Bowling Green, Ohio, protested on Monday night against a recent school board decision to keep local students in online learning, despite the school system being designated as safe to reopen. The protest was sponsored by the group BG VOICE, a Facebook group boasting more…

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Loudoun County, Virginia Schools Turn to Black Lives Matter for Curriculum, Tries to Hide It

Several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests reveal Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) reliance on material from Black Lives Matter (BLM) and other similar organizations.
One parent issued a FOIA request to LCPS Public Information Officer Wayde Byard. Specifically, the FOIA request concerned any LCPS collaboration with Southern Poverty Law Center and BLM.

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Belmont University Condemns Sunday Worship Protest, Cites COVID Safety Concerns – Never Addresses Protests

Belmont University sent out an email to students condemning Sunday’s worship protest and asking students to self-report if they attended. The university cited concern over the “city’s ability to manage the spread of this virus.”

“Regardless of your personal views about COVID-related restrictions on religious worship, events like this severely challenge our city’s ability to manage the spread of this virus,” read the email. “If you are a Belmont student and you did attend this event without wearing a mask and maintaining proper distance from others, please contact Health Services so they can evaluate your potential exposure and determine if a period of quarantine or being tested is necessary.”

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Ohio Football Coaches, Players Frustrated at Differing County Guidelines

Players and coaches are growing increasingly frustrated as Ohio counties reveal different protocols for coronavirus exposure for high school football teams.

Matt Lancaster, the head coach for the Indian Valley High School football team in Tuscarawas County, said 16 of his students were quarantined after an exposure during a game on October 10.

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Loudoun County School Board Backpedals on Policy Limiting Free Speech Indefinitely After Public Outcry

Loudoun County School Board voted this week to revise their “Professional Conduct” policy governing employee speech off of school property. Up until the latest meeting, members recommended to approve and accept the policy.
Apparently, public outcry from teachers unions and community members led to this decision.

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Belmont Students and Alumni Coalition Claim Private Prisons Are Racist, Call for University to Remove CoreCivic CEO from Board of Trustees

A coalition of Belmont University students and alumni called on the university to remove all ties with private prison company CoreCivic in a virtual town hall on Wednesday.
Be Better Belmont formed mid-July in the wake of the George Floyd protests.

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Top High School in U.S. Releases New Admissions Plan Based on ‘Racial Equity’ Lottery Instead of Academic Merit

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) released a new admissions plan for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology largely based on lottery rather than academic merit. The new plan proposed by FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand omits the current standardized testing requirements.
FCPS says it will admit 100 students based on high evaluations. The high school would select the remaining 400 at random through something they call a “merit lottery.”

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Thales Academy Franklin Adds Fourth and Fifth Grade After Huge Success of K-3 Programs That Opened in August

Thales Academy Franklin will add grades fourth and fifth to their programs for the 2021-2022 school year, due to a successful first quarter. Applications are now open and will be selected on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Thales Academy Franklin is one in a college preparatory network of Pre-K-12 independent schools founded in North Carolina. The Pre-K-5 programs use a Direct Instruction (DI) educational model. DI groups and paces children based on their skill levels rather than age.

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Thales Academy Glen Allen Adds Third Grade After Huge Success of K-2 Programs That Opened in July

Thales Academy Glen Allen will add the third grade to their K-2 programs in the 2021-2022 school year, after a successful first quarter. Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The Glen Allen location first opened on July 20 of this year – it is the first Thales Academy in Virginia.

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Whitmer Relents, Signs New Executive Order Re-Opening More Gathering Places

Michigan movie theaters and performance venues will soon be allowed to reopen, according to an executive order signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The order, which also amends coronavirus safety mandates in schools, will allow a variety of previously closed entertainment venues, including indoor theaters, cinemas, performance venues, arcades, bingo halls, bowling centers, indoor climbing facilities and trampoline parks, to reopen statewide on October 9.

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House Education Committee Approves Legislation to Increase Access to Apprenticeship Programs

The Michigan House of Representatives Education Committee approved legislation that increases accessibility to apprenticeship programs in high schools on Thursday.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Ben Frederick (R-85-Owosso), brings Michigan apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs in line with federal workforce mandates so federal funding can be used.

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Fairfax County Public Schools Paid ‘Critical Race’ and ‘Antiracism’ Theorist Ibram Kendi $20,000 for One-Hour Virtual Presentation

Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) paid critical race theorist Ibram X. Kendi $20,000 to give an hour-long virtual presentation. Kendi is the bestselling author of “How to Be Antiracist,” a book of circular definitions used to explain critical race theory.

The average teaching assistant earns $23,000 a year; the staff spent nearly that much for a 45-minute lecture and 15-minute Q&A. 

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UVA to Students: Lockdown! But…Pay Us!

University of Virginia (UVA) President Jim Ryan announced new COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday prohibiting student gathering of five or more people, mandating constant use of masks or face coverings and banning  travel and visitors coming to campus for at least the next two weeks. 

The restrictions apply to students, faculty and staff, living on and off campus, and went into effect on Wednesday at 9 a.m. 

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Two Minnesota Representatives Help Pass Act Paying Schools to ‘Desegregate’

Minnesota Representatives Ilhan Omar (DFL-MN-5) and Angie Craig (DFL-MN-2) helped pass a House bill to “desegregate” schools nationwide. All 105 cosponsors are Democratic.
“This legislation is an important step in making sure every student receives an excellent public education,” stated Craig in a press release.

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Minnesota Department of Health: Even Kids Who Test Negative Must Quarantine If Exposed

Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) stated Monday in a press release that even children who test negative for the coronavirus must quarantine if exposed. The MDH’s “COVID-19 Attendance Guide for Parents and Families” explains these standards.

“Getting tested does not shorten the time that they must stay home. Your child must stay home for 14 days (quarantine) from the last contact they had with the person who tested positive for COVID-19, even if the child tests negative,” states the guide.

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UM, MSU Excited to See Football Return, Fans Have Mixed Reactions

Michigan sports fans had mixed reactions after the Big Ten conference announced it would be bringing back football this year, while conference leaders rejoiced.

The conference, which had originally postponed playing because of the coronavirus pandemic, announced on Wednesday that it will resume games on October 24, according to ESPN.

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Michigan Begins Identifying Schools with COVID-19 Outbreaks

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has begun publishing coronavirus outbreak information broken down by school building.

The state had previously been confirming regions in which outbreaks were taking place at schools, but not identifying the individual schools or school districts.

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Reps Tom Emmer and Tim Walberg Secure Survivors Benefits for Homeschoolers After Social Security Originally Denied Them Because of Their School Choice

Congressman Tom Emmer (R-MN-06), alongside Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI-07), secured survivors benefits for homeschooled children. Prior to this, Minnesota and Michigan blocked homeschoolers over 17 and 18 respectively from attaining benefits.
According to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), both states were cutting off Social Security Administration (SSA) survivors benefits to homeschoolers due to “lack of proof” of their status as full-time students. In both states’ eyes, the students didn’t meet state compulsory education laws. 

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University of Minnesota Will Cut Only Men’s Sports Due to COVID Financial Strains, Cites Title IX

The University of Minnesota (UMN) announced Thursday that it will cut four men’s sports due to pandemic-induced financial strains. Men’s indoor/outdoor track and field, gymnastics, and tennis will be cut after the 2020-21 competition season.
Comparatively, the women’s indoor/outdoor track and field, gymnastics, and tennis lost more money than the men’s teams: $4.8 million versus $3.4 million. Other women’s sports cost the school more. Women’s basketball, gymnastics, hockey, swim and dive, and volleyball alone totaled about $14 million in the red. 

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Minnesotan Public University Grants $92K to ‘Decolonize Educators’

Bemidji State University will grant $92,000 for a “Decolonizing Educators” program. The university announced its decision to fund these scholarships in a press release last week.

The funds come from a Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) initiative called “Minnesota Indian Teaching Training Program” (MITTP). The state program administers scholarships to enrolled members of federally-recognized tribes, or first- or second-degree descendants. MITTP is currently available through six universities and colleges.

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Former Vanderbilt University Professor Carol Swain Weighs in on Constitution Question Scandal at Her Teaching Alma Mater

Dr. Carol M. Swain appeared on Fox News Channel’s Fox and Friends Weekend Edition to discuss the recent backlash facing Vanderbilt University for asking a quiz question suggesting the Constitution may perpetuate White supremacy by protecting the institution of slavery.

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DeVos Tells Michigan Schools Not to Expect Federal Testing Waivers

Michigan schools should not anticipate waivers to allow schools to skip statewide testing for the upcoming school year, according to a letter sent by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to State Superintendent Michael Rice.

Rice and State Board of Education President Casandra Ulbrich had, in light of the continuing coronavirus pandemic, requested waivers from DeVos that would allow Michigan schools to skip student assessments typically required federally.

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Michigan to Publish Which Schools Have Coronavirus Outbreaks

Michigan will begin identifying K-12 schools that have coronavirus outbreaks beginning on September 14, a state spokesperson told BridgeMI on Tuesday.

Up to this point, the state has been confirming the regions in which the outbreaks are occurring, but have not provided more specific information, such as the specific school districts in which the outbreaks are located.

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86 Percent of Michigan Schools to Offer In-Person Learning

Eighty-six percent of school districts in Michigan will offer some or all in-person instruction at the beginning of the school year, according to a study conducted by Michigan State University (MSU).

The study, released Friday, showed that 59 percent of Michigan school districts will be offering in-person schooling five days a week and 27 percent will be offering it at least two to three days a week.

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The Madness of Crowds: Liberty U’s Business School Dean David Brat Weighs in on the U.S. Economy’s Future

Tuesday morning on The John Fredericks Show, host Fredericks welcomed Liberty University’s Business School Dean David Brat to the show to discuss the present and future of the United States economy.

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Whitmer Reportedly Lone Governor Preventing Big 10 Football

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could be a “major roadblock” to the start of the Big 10 football season, according to Ohio State insider Jeff Snook.

The Spun reported that Snook is saying that Whitmer against University of Michigan playing football.

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Private Schools Offer In-Person Solution to Public Schools’ Online-Only Problem

While many public schools across Virginia will keep their doors closed in lieu of virtual classrooms this fall, a private school may be the in-person educational option parents and students are looking for.

Fork Union Military Academy (FUMA) (7-12, male-only) is one such option. The boarding military school is known for its “One Subject Plan.” Students are enrolled in one subject at a time, allowing them to focus on one specific area of study for 7 weeks at a time. FUMA will offer in-person classes and athletics programs during the fall while taking necessary precautions for the health of its students and staff.

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As Virginia Public Schools Struggle to Reopen, Thales Academy Sees Strong Start to School Year

Many public schools in Virginia won’t start until the end of August, but Thales Academy in Glen Allen is already off to a strong start for the 2020-2021 school year.

Thales, which is a private school with campuses in Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, started their school year on July 20.

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More Than $37 Million in Grant Funding Available to Close Technology Gap, Provide Mental Health Support in Schools

School districts seeking additional funding to help offset the coronavirus pandemic can now apply for a grant from the Education Equity Fund.

The fund, created by the Michigan Department of Education, is aimed at helping to close the technology gap and provide mental health services for students and staff.

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Counselor in Texas School District Shares List of Marxist Literature as ‘Tool’

A lengthy email from a counselor in Plano Independent School District (PISD) sent to colleagues contained three attachments including, among other things, a list of overtly Marxist media for use in classrooms, and a study guide for those “trying to become better allies.”

The attachments highlight materials like The 1619 Project (which claims America’s history is based on racism and slavery), talking points concerning the deaths of George Floyd; Breonna Taylor; and Ahmaud Arbery; and suggested reading lists including Marxist and Communist literature.

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Governor Walz’s Plan Defers to Schools for Campus Openings

Governor Tim Walz announced Thursday that Minnesota schools will have the majority of authority on if or how they open campuses, based on discretionary assessment of their district’s localized data.

According to Walz’s Emergency Executive Order 20-82 and the accompanying “Safe Learning Plan,” schools must watch the spread of COVID-19 in their communities to determine the learning model that will suit their needs. These models are also subject to change throughout the school year, a protocol that Walz refers to as “dialing back [or] forward” in his executive order.

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Minnesotans Divided Over ‘Safe Return’ to Schools

This week, educators and parents wait with bated breath on Governor Tim Walz’s upcoming decision on a safe return to schools.
On the Facebook page, “Minnesota for a Safe Return to Campus”, the greatest concerns were mainly posted by educators. Death, unrealistic demands, a future lack of interest in teaching as a profession, and the inability to be with elderly loved ones were all consistent issues listed throughout the page.

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Michigan High School Fires Teacher After Pro-Trump Tweet

A Michigan high school is receiving backlash after it fired a teacher shortly after he tweeted “Trump is our president.”

Varsity baseball coach and social studies teacher Justin Kucera said that Walled Lake school district gave him the option of being fired or resigning after he had tweeted his support of President Trump and for reopening schools, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

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Michigan Publishes Reopening Guidance for Schools, Allocates $256M

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released a set of health and safety guidelines on Tuesday for schools returning to in-person classrooms among the pandemic.

The “MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap” outlines safety protocols for schools in each stage or reopening and includes information on the proper use of personal protection equipment, disinfecting, spacing in classrooms and identifying symptoms, among other things. Guidance is distinguished by phases and includes both required and recommended protocols.

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