Washington state High School Coach vindicated by Supreme Court ruling in favor of his right to pray

Exodus 18:21 “Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.

Important Takeaways:

  • Supreme Court Upholds Religious Rights, Vindicates Football Coach Who Was Fired for Praying
  • “SCOTUS sides with a high school football coach in a First Amendment case about prayer at the 50-yard-line. In a 6-3 ruling, SCOTUS says the public school district violated the coach’s free speech and free exercise rights when it barred him from praying on the field after games.”
  • Coach Joe Kennedy has been battling the Bremerton School District since 2015. The district claimed that his actions violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

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VA school being investigated for ‘Endorsing Sex work’ for Students

Luke 17:2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Police Investigate: Are These VA School Districts Endorsing ‘Sex Work’ for Students?
  • The conversation reportedly began when a middle school teacher, whose name has been withheld, asked the librarian if the school had a copy of the book Seeing Gender; an Illustrated Guide to Identity and Expression by Iris Gottlieb. The book includes a chapter titled “‘Sex Work’ Is Not a Bad Term”
  • A chapter of the book describes so-called “sex work” as a normal and acceptable job. “It’s a job like being a store clerk, an architect, or a freelance writer. We all, unfortunately, have to do work in order to make a living. Some of us hate our jobs and some of us love them — the same goes for those who do sex work,” the chapter claims.
  • The teacher reportedly told police in a recorded conversation that the librarian, whose name has also been withheld for privacy reasons, confirmed the library had the book and claimed it was useful to students engaged in sex work, according to The Daily Wire.

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10-year-old in Florida arrested for threatening to conduct a mass shooting

Rev 6:3-4 NCV When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!”4 Then another horse came out, a red one. Its rider was given power to take away peace from the earth and to make people kill each other, and he was given a big sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • A 10-year-old in Florida was arrested after threatening to shoot up a school, police said.
  • Sending a text message threatening to conduct a mass shooting
  • The 10-year-old was charged with making a written threat to conduct a mass shooting.

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CDC releases new guidance to allow children exposed to coronavirus to attend school

By Nandita Bose and Carl O’Donnell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new strategy called “test-to-stay” that allows unvaccinated children to stay in school even if they have been exposed to the coronavirus, agency Director Rochelle Walensky said on Friday.

“If exposed children meet a certain criteria and continue to test negative, they can stay at school instead of quarantining at home,” Walensky said during a press briefing.

Some states are already advising their schools to use “test-to-stay” strategies in order to keep more children in class.

Schools must test their students twice a week to implement the test-to-stay strategy, Walensky said, adding that many schools already meet that standard.

The new guidance comes as the Omicron variant continues to spread in the United States. More than 39 states and 75 countries have reported cases of the new variant, which is highly contagious and infects vaccinated people at elevated rates.

“We expect it to become the dominant strain in the United States, as it has in other countries, in the coming weeks, Walensky said.

Some data has suggested that cases of Omicron are less severe than past variants, but top U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said the severity of the new variant is “still up in the air.”

Fauci said that third booster shots of currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines provide increased protection against Omicron. He said there has been no decision yet on whether to encourage people to get boosted sooner than six months after their initial inoculations.

(Reporting by Carl O’Donnell and Nandita Bose in Washington; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

U.S. educators wrangle over school re-opening

By Brendan O’Brien and Barbara Goldberg

(Reuters) – Educators in major cities including Chicago and Philadelphia on Monday called for strong COVID-19 safety protocols in their classrooms as those and other districts pushed to re-open schools that have been closed for nearly a year.

Across the nation, school reopenings have become a red-hot topic. District officials, teachers, parents and health professionals have been debating when and how to safely re-open schools for millions of students who have been taking classes remotely for 11 months since the pandemic closed schools last spring.

In Chicago, the powerful Chicago Teachers Union was considering the school district’s proposed COVID-19 safety plan that would allow schools to begin re-opening this week. In Philadelphia, educators won an agreement to allow a mediator to decide when in-person learning could safely resume.

If approved, the agreement with Chicago Public Schools, the third largest U.S. district, would avert a threatened lock out by the district, or strike by teachers who demanded stronger safety protocols to prevent the spread of the virus in classrooms.

A deal would allow for some 67,000 students to gradually return into school buildings over the next month, starting with pre-kindergarten and special education pupils later this week.

The union’s leadership is expected to decide on Monday night whether to send its 28,000 rank and file members the district’s safety plan to for a vote on Tuesday.

In Philadelphia, the teachers union succeeded late on Sunday in reversing a district order to return some 2,000 pre-kindergarten through second grade teachers to their classrooms on Monday to prepare for students coming back on Feb. 22.

“There is a lot of uncertainty about the process of re-opening,” said Pennsylvania State Senator Nikil Saval on a Twitter video as he protested with Philadelphia teachers outside his child’s school. “We want an eventual return to schools but only when it is safe … for teachers and students.”

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers on Twitter cheered the city’s concession to allow an independent arbitrator to decide when the district can safely resume in-person teaching.

“The mediation process is still ongoing,” the union said on Twitter.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Sunday addressed the issue on Sunday, describing school closures and their negative impact on families as a national emergency.

During a Super Bowl interview on CBS, Biden said it was time for schools to reopen if they can do it safely, with fewer people in classrooms and proper ventilation.

“I think about the price so many of my grandkids and … kids are going to pay for not having had the chance to finish whatever it was,” he said. “They are going for a lot, these kids.”

Leading health organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have said there is little evidence that schools contribute to the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 460,000 people in the United States since the pandemic began.

In Michigan, more than 350 physicians and psychologists signed a letter to Ann Arbor Schools officials urging the resumption of in-person classes by March 1. They warned of the “harmful impact of delayed school reopening on our community.”

Dr. Kim Monroe, a pediatrician who helped organize the Michigan effort, told radio station WEMU, “We are seeing so much mental illness in children due to the virtual schooling.”

A gradual re-opening unfolded in Atlanta when third through fifth grade students went back to school on Monday after prekindergarten through second grade returned to schools on Jan. 25.

In New York City, in-person classes in the nation’s largest school system will resume for middle school students on Feb. 25. About half of the public school system’s 471 middle schools will offer five-day-a-week classroom learning with the remainder working toward that goal, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said at a press briefing.

“If we’re in an environment where the city is overwhelmingly vaccinated, we’re able to bring school back as it was. Same physical proportions. Same number of kids in classrooms,” De Blasio said, adding he hopes to have all schools back to full-time in-person learning in the fall.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago and Barbara Goldberg in Maplewood, New Jersey; Editing by David Gregorio)

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Concerns grow that kids spread virus

U.S. students are returning to school in person and online in the middle of a pandemic, and the stakes for educators and families are rising in the face of emerging research that shows children could be a risk for spreading the new coronavirus.

Several large studies have shown that the vast majority of children who contract COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, have milder illness than adults. And early reports did not find strong evidence of children as major contributors to the deadly virus that has killed more than 780,000 people globally.

But more recent studies are starting to show how contagious infected children, even those with no symptoms, might be.

Grave situation in renewed South Korea outbreak

Novel coronavirus infections have spread nationwide from a church in the South Korean capital, raising fears that one of the world’s virus mitigation success stories might yet suffer a disastrous outbreak, a top health official said on Thursday.

“The reason we take the recent situation seriously is because this transmission, which began to spread around a specific religious facility, is appearing nationwide through certain rallies,” Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip told a briefing.

The positive cases from the rallies include people from nine different cities and provinces across the country. Kim did not identify those places but said 114 facilities, including the places of work of infected people, were facing risk of transmission.

Brazil sees signs spread is slowing

The spread of the coronavirus in Brazil could be about to slow, the Health Ministry said, amid reports the transmission rate has fallen below a key level and early signs of a gradual decline in the weekly totals of cases and fatalities.

The cautious optimism comes despite figures again showing a steady rise in the number of confirmed cases and death toll in the last 24 hours, cementing Brazil’s status as the world’s second biggest COVID-19 hot spot after the United States.

According to ministry data, Brazil saw a drop in the number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases to 304,684 last week from a peak of 319,653 in the week ending July 25. The weekly death toll fell to 6,755 from a peak of 7,677 in the last week of July.

Trump touts convalescent plasma as treatment

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday touted the use of convalescent plasma as a treatment for COVID-19 and suggested a reported decision by regulators to put on hold an emergency authorization for its use could be politically motivated. “I’ve heard fantastic things about convalescent plasma,” Trump told a briefing.

An emergency approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the use of blood plasma as a coronavirus treatment has been put on hold over concerns the data backing it was too weak, the New York Times reported on Wednesday. The FDA did not respond to a request for comment.

People who survive an infectious disease such as COVID-19 are left with blood plasma containing antibodies the body’s immune system created to fight off a virus. This can be transfused into newly infected patients to try to aid recovery.

China backs Wuhan park after pool party

Chinese state newspapers threw their support behind an amusement park in the central city of Wuhan on Thursday after pictures of a densely packed pool party at the park went viral overseas amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

Videos and photos of an electronic music festival at the Wuhan Maya Beach Water Park on July 11 raised eyebrows overseas, but reflected life returning to normal in the city where the virus causing COVID-19 was first detected, the official English-language China Daily newspaper said in a front-page story.

Another story in the Global Times, a tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily, cited Wuhan residents as saying the pool party reflected the city’s success in its virus-control efforts.

(Compiled by Linda Noakes and Karishma Singh; Editing by Mark Potter)

As U.S. schools reopen, concerns grow that kids spread coronavirus

By Deena Beasley

(Reuters) – U.S. students are returning to school in person and online in the middle of a pandemic, and the stakes for educators and families are rising in the face of emerging research that shows children could be a risk for spreading the new coronavirus.

Several large studies have shown that the vast majority of children who contract COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, have milder illness than adults. And early reports did not find strong evidence of children as major contributors to the deadly virus that has killed more than 780,000 people globally.

But more recent studies are starting to show how contagious infected children, even those with no symptoms, might be.

“Contrary to what we believed, based on the epidemiological data, kids are not spared from this pandemic,” said Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital and author of a new study.

Schools across the country are trying out a wide range of strategies to reopen, from all online classes to all in person. They are asking whether reopening schools with stringent mitigation measures is worth the risk to students, families and educators, given that keeping schools closed will likely harm academic progress, social and emotional development, mental health and food security.

Dr. Fasano and colleagues at Boston’s Massachusetts General and MassGeneral Hospital for Children found that infected children have a significantly higher level of virus in their airways than adults hospitalized in intensive care units for COVID-19 treatment. The high viral levels were found in infants through young adults, although most of the participants were age 11 to 17.

The study, published on Thursday in the Journal of Pediatrics, involved 192 participants ages 0-22 who were seen at urgent care clinics for suspected COVID-19. Forty-nine of them – a quarter of the total – tested positive for the virus. Another 18 were included in the study after being diagnosed with multi-system inflammatory syndrome, a serious COVID-related illness than can develop several weeks after an infection.

The research suggests that children can carry a high viral load, meaning they can be very contagious, regardless of their susceptibility to developing a COVID-19 illness.

“There has been some conflicting data out there about the degree to which children can be contagious,” said Dr. Marybeth Sexton, assistant professor of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, who was not involved in the study. “This is further evidence that we may see children as sources of infection.”

She added more extensive research is needed.

“NOBODY IS SPARED”

A separate study published last month in JAMA Pediatrics found that older children hospitalized with COVID-19 had similar levels of the virus in their upper respiratory tract as adults, but children younger than five carried significantly greater amounts.

However, other medical groups show differing information over children’s potential to spread the virus. The American Academy of Pediatrics on Wednesday updated its guidelines to reflect “that children under 10 years may be less likely to become infected and spread infection, while those 10 years and older may spread it as efficiently as adults.”

A recent South Korean study found that people were most likely to contract the new coronavirus from members of their own households, with children aged nine and under least likely to be the first identified case.

Since most children infected with the coronavirus have very mild symptoms, they were largely overlooked as a demographic in the earlier stages of the pandemic, Dr. Fasano said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a pediatric COVID-19 hospitalization rate of 8 per 100,000 for March 1 to July 25, compared with a rate of 164.5 per 100,000 for adults.

Experts say the incidence of a related issue, which can develop after COVID-19 infection, multi-system inflammatory syndrome, is concerning. “The number of these patients is growing,” Dr. Fasano added.

Concerns have also been raised about cases of type 1 diabetes among children diagnosed with COVID-19. A small UK study found that the rate of diabetes almost doubled during the peak of Britain’s COVID-19 epidemic, suggesting a possible link between the two diseases that needs more investigation.

“The more we understand, the more it boils down to nobody is spared in this pandemic,” Dr. Fasano said.

(Reporting By Deena Beasley; Editing by Peter Henderson and Aurora Ellis)

Ohio governor orders all children wear masks at public schools that reopen

By Rich McKay

(Reuters) – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ordered on Tuesday that all children in grades K-12 wear masks at public schools that reopen.

Local school districts can still decide when to reopen and if learning will be done in person, online or a mix of the two, but everyone, including children and staff, must wear masks. Previously, masks were ordered only for adults.

“School districts are making decisions about how to come back,” DeWine, a Republican, said. “Each school district faces a different reality.”

There are exceptions to the order, including children with autism or other conditions that make it difficult to wear masks, he said.

The state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will distribute 2 million face masks to Ohio schools for use by staff and students.

“This move gives us the best shot to keep Ohio’s kids and educators safe and physically in school,” DeWine said.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Chris Reese and Leslie Adler)

Teachers protest across U.S. over re-opening schools in pandemic

By Brendan O’Brien

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Teachers and support staff at more than 35 school districts across the United States on Monday are protesting the re-opening of schools while COVID-19 is surging in many parts of the country.

They are demanding in-person classes not be held until scientific data supports it, safety protocols such as lower class sizes and virus testing are established, and schools are staffed with adequate numbers of counselors and nurses, according to a website set up for the demonstrations.

On Twitter, the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association showed protesters making fake gravestones that said “Here lies a third grade student from Green Bay who caught COVID at school” and “RIP Grandma caught COVID helping grand kids with homework.”

Teachers are also demanding financial help for parents in need, including rent and mortgage assistance, a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures and cash assistance.

Many of these issues are at the center of a political tussle in Washington, where Congressional Democrats and Trump administration officials will resume talks on Monday aimed at hammering out a coronavirus economic relief bill after missing a deadline to extend benefits to tens of millions of jobless Americans.

The coronavirus, which first appeared in China late last year, has infected 4.6 million people in the United States and killed more than 155,000 Americans since February, according to a Reuters tally. Deaths rose by over 25,000 in July and cases doubled in 19 states during the month.

President Donald Trump has made school re-openings for classroom instruction, as they normally would in August and September, part of his re-election campaign. The Republican president is trailing in opinion polls against Democratic candidate Joe Biden ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

“Cases up because of BIG Testing! Much of our Country is doing very well. Open the Schools!” Trump tweeted on Monday.

While reported case numbers may be linked to more testing, recent increases in hospitalizations and deaths have no connection to more people being tested for the virus.

The United States is in a new phase of the outbreak with infections in rural areas as well as cities, Deborah Birx, the coordinator of Trump’s coronavirus task force, said on Sunday.

“What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread,” Birx said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program.

On Monday, Trump lashed out at Birx for her comments. Trump accused Birx of capitulating to criticism from Democrats that the federal government’s response to the pandemic has been ineffective.

“So Crazy Nancy Pelosi said horrible things about Dr. Deborah Birx, going after her because she was too positive on the very good job we are doing on combating the China Virus, including Vaccines & Therapeutics. In order to counter Nancy, Deborah took the bait & hit us. Pathetic!” Trump wrote.

House of Representatives Speaker Pelosi said on CNN on Monday that Birx has “enabled” Trump, who played down the seriousness of the virus in the early stages and pushed for a quick reopening of the economy and schools following weeks of lockdowns.

“I don’t have confidence in anyone who stands there while the President says swallow Lysol and it’s going to cure your virus,” Pelosi said in a reference to Trump at a coronavirus briefing in April with Birx present.

Trump had asked whether injecting disinfectant into the body could be a treatment for the virus, leading makers of those products to issue warnings against doing so.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago, Gabriella Borter in New York; writing by Grant McCool; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

California shuts down businesses, schools as coronavirus outbreak grows

By Sharon Bernstein and Dan Whitcomb

SACRAMENTO (Reuters) – California’s governor on Monday clamped new restrictions on businesses as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations soared, and the state’s two largest school districts, in Los Angeles and San Diego, said children would be made to stay home in August.

Governor Gavin Newsom ordered bars closed and restaurants, movie theaters, zoos and museums across the nation’s most populous state to cease indoor operations. Gyms, churches and hair salons must close in the 30 hardest-hit counties.

“It’s incumbent upon all of us to recognize soberly that COVID-19 is not going away any time soon, until there is a vaccine and/or an effective therapy,” Newsom said at a news briefing.

The governor called the move critical to stemming a surge in COVID-19 cases that have strained hospitals in several of California’s rural counties.

The public school districts for Los Angeles and San Diego, which instruct a combined 706,000 students and employ 88,000 people, said in a joint statement they would teach only online when school resumes in August, citing “vague and contradictory” science and government guidelines.

The districts said countries that have safely reopened schools have done so only after establishing declining infection rates and on-demand coronavirus testing.

“California has neither,” the statement said, adding, “The sky-rocketing infection rates of the past few weeks make it clear the pandemic is not under control.”

The union representing Los Angeles teachers applauded the strategy in a separate statement released shortly after the school shutdowns were announced.

“In the face of the alarming spike in COVID cases, the lack of necessary funding from the government to open schools safely and the outsized threat of death faced by working-class communities of color, there really is no other choice that doesn’t put thousands of lives at risk,” United Teachers Los Angeles said.

Brenda Del Hierro, who has two children in Los Angeles schools, said resuming traditional instruction was important but the hazards had to be considered. “For their social and emotional well being they need to go back to school. But at the end of the day there is too much of a risk,” she said.

DISTRICTS CLASH WITH TRUMP

The decision to cancel in-person classes puts the districts at odds with U.S. President Donald Trump, who has said he might withhold federal funding or remove tax-exempt status from school systems that refuse to reopen. Most education funding comes from state and local governments.

Administration officials have said data does not suggest attending school would be dangerous for children because their infection rates are far lower than the population at large.

In response to the California districts’ announcement, the White House reiterated that the ideal scenario is for students to go to school. “Hopefully Los Angeles and San Diego can get there soon as well, as that is what is best for children.” spokesman Judd Deer said.

Newsom, who has said during the pandemic that it was up to local school districts to determine how best to educate their students, cheered the announcements by Los Angeles and San Diego.

But Republicans criticized the governor for failing to issue statewide guidelines for schools during the health crisis.

“While he continues to blame Californians for his failure in leadership, his demands to close our small businesses and lack of direction on opening schools will further harm California’s school children and the small businesses that fuel our economy,” Jessica Millan Patterson, chairwoman of the California Republican Party, said in a written statement.

California, along with Florida, Arizona and Texas have emerged as the new U.S. epicenters of the pandemic. Infections have risen rapidly in about 40 of the 50 states over the last two weeks, according to a Reuters analysis.

Despite nearly 28,000 new COVID-19 cases in the last two days in Florida, Disney World in Orlando welcomed the public on Saturday for the first time since March with guests required to wear masks, undergo temperature checks and keep physically apart.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles, Steve Gorman in Eureka, California, Rich McKay in Atlanta, Lisa Lambert and Doina Chiacu in Washington, and Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; Writing by Lisa Shumaker and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Howard Goller, Bill Tarrant and Cynthia Osterman)