4 Idaho students targeted in attack; police continue to investigate

Matthew 24:12 – “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.

Important Takeaways:

  • Police: Knife Used to Murder 4 Idaho Students in Targeted Attack
  • Four University of Idaho students found dead in an off-campus home were targeted, and the killer or killers used a knife or other “edged weapon,” police disclosed Tuesday
  • The students were killed in what is considered to be “an isolated, targeted attack and there is no imminent threat to the community at large,” according to police
  • The police said anyone with information should contact the department and asked that people respect the privacy of the victims’ family and friends.

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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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Missouri attorney general sues school districts that mandate masks

(Reuters) – Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against school districts in his state that have required masks for students and teachers, calling the practice in a statement “arbitrary and capricious.”

The lawsuit filed in Boone County Circuit Court named Columbia Public Schools, its school board and its superintendent as defendants but also includes other schools that have issued such mandates.

Columbia’s school district, with about 19,000 pupils in the center of the Midwestern state, issued a mask mandate this month for all students, teachers and staff to protect against a surge in COVID-19 cases.

“We filed this suit today because we fundamentally don’t believe in forced masking, rather that parents and families should have the power to make decisions on masks, based on science and facts,” Schmitt said in a statement.

The lawsuit asked the court to rule the mask mandate is unlawful and to block the district from carrying it out.

The lawsuit is one of several court battles being waged in the United States over masking and COVID vaccinations as educators, parents and lawmakers grapple with another coronavirus surge just as students head back to the classroom.

In Florida, the state Board of Education on Friday ordered two school districts to provide parents with a way to opt out of a requirement that their children wear masks or face having some of their state funding withheld. On Tuesday, the Broward County School Board, which oversees a system of 261,000 students, said it rejected the order.

Columbia Public Schools officials were not available for comment on Tuesday. On Aug. 13, when the district announced the masking requirement, it cited a high rate of transmission of the Delta variant in the community.

“We know not everyone will agree with this decision,” the district said in a statement. “This decision is not a forever decision, but it is a decision that is currently necessary.”

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Chris Reese and David Gregorio)

CDC recommends masking indoors for unvaccinated students, teachers in U.S. schools

(Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday updated its guidance to help reopen schools in the fall, including recommending masking indoors for everyone who is not fully vaccinated and three feet of distance within classrooms.

The CDC in its latest guidance said all kindergarten through grade 12 schools in the United States should continue to mandate wearing masks indoors by all individuals who are not fully vaccinated.

The agency said that if localities decide to remove prevention strategies in schools based on local conditions, they should remove them one at a time. Schools should monitor closely for increases in COVID-19 cases before removing the next prevention strategy.

“Because of the importance of in-person learning, schools where not everyone is fully vaccinated should implement physical distancing to the extent possible within their structures, but should not exclude students from in-person learning to keep a minimum distance requirement,” the new guidance said.

A study by the CDC also released on Friday showed that half of unvaccinated adolescents and parents of unvaccinated adolescents reported being uncertain about getting a COVID-19 vaccine, or did not intend to get one at all.

(Reporting by Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Dan Grebler)

COVID-19 mask mandates latest flashpoint for U.S. schools

By Sharon Bernstein and Colleen Jenkins

(Reuters) – Two days after the school board in Johnston, Iowa, decided last week to keep requiring mask wearing in schools to prevent coronavirus transmission, the state’s Republican governor signed a law that immediately prohibited such mandates.

The reaction in Johnston was swift and sharply divided, with some parents applauding the move to make masks optional for the waning days of the school year and others calling it dangerous given the continued threat from COVID-19.

“I just find it super disappointing and selfish,” said local parent Sara Parris, who is still sending her two sons to class with face coverings.

The debate over masks in schools is yet another flashpoint for U.S. educators grappling with how to keep students and staff safe during the pandemic. Friction around returning to in-person learning has given way to heated disagreements over whether masks should be shed for good.

Iowa and Texas have banned school districts from requiring kids to wear masks on campus. Similar moves are under consideration in other states and local jurisdictions, spurred in part by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) saying on May 13 that vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks in most situations.

With children under age 12 not yet eligible for vaccinations, however, the CDC recommends face coverings in educational settings at least through the end of the school year. While children are less likely to suffer severe COVID-19, they are not without risk and can readily transmit the virus.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said on Twitter that her state was “putting parents back in control of their child’s education and protecting the rights of all Iowans to make their own health care decisions.”

Responding to the governor via Twitter, Democratic state Senator Sarah Trone Garriott said: “I’m hearing from lots of parents reporting that their children are being bullied for wearing a mask. Are you going to stand up for their personal choice?”

At the Johnston school board meeting last week, most parents spoke in favor of making masks optional, with one mother calling masking requirements for children abusive. Other parents emailed school officials asking for mask mandates to remain in place.

“It’s been difficult to try to find the right balance,” Justin Allen, president of the school board and a parent of two high school students, said in an interview.

“Just when you think you are in kind of a comfort zone and you think you can focus on education for awhile, something else emerges and you have another controversial issue to address.”

CDC STUDY BACKS MASKS

In North Carolina, parents opposed to mandatory face coverings staged a protest in Wake County after Democratic Governor Roy Cooper lifted mask requirements in some situations but not in schools.

“Parents should determine if their child should wear a mask, not school systems or the governor,” parent Nazach Snapp wrote in a letter to the Wake County school board.

Others urged the board to continue its mask requirement.

“Given that vaccines are not available yet for children under 12, I implore you to continue to require students in middle and elementary settings to wear masks,” wrote parent Mimosa Hines.

A study published by the CDC on Friday showed that in elementary schools that required masks, transmission of COVID-19 was lower by 37% than in schools where masks were optional. The study, which included 169 elementary schools in Georgia that were open for in-person instruction, also showed improved ventilation slowed virus transmission.

It advised increasing, not decreasing, the use of masks and ventilation in schools.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association, two unions that represent a total of about 5 million teachers and staff, have urged states to keep their mask requirements at least through the end of this school year.

While nearly 90% of AFT’s members have been vaccinated against COVID-19, many of their students have not.

U.S. regulators earlier this month authorized use of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc and partner BioNTech SE for children ages 12 to 15. It is still being tested for use in younger children.

AFT President Randi Weingarten said Texas and Iowa “jumped the gun” in removing their mask requirements. Politics around masks, along with unclear guidance from the CDC, have left teachers in an awkward position, she said.

“Teachers don’t want to become the mask police,” she said. “It’s time to let us actually teach.”

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, California and Colleen Jenkins in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

U.S. schools unlikely to mandate COVID-19 vaccines anytime soon

By Brad Brooks

(Reuters) -Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for use in children as young as 12 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week – but do not expect schools to require shots for students anytime soon given public hesitation and political hurdles.

State governments for the most part can order a vaccine be required for a child to attend a K-12 public school, said Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, a University of California-Hastings law professor who researches school mandates and the legal issues around vaccines.

In all but a handful of states, a measure must pass the full legislature to be added to the mandatory vaccine list, Reiss said. No state government has mandated COVID-19 immunizations for schools, she added.

There is increased hesitancy over the shots because some of them rely on the newer mRNA technology and have been authorized on an emergency-use basis. Early studies also indicate children are far less susceptible to grave health complications from COVID-19, though they are not without risk and can transmit the disease.

Reiss said it is highly unlikely state legislatures will push through mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for children this year.

“It takes political capital, and my bet is that legislators will not even try until they can do it for children aged 5 and up,” she said. “They will not want to go through the process twice.”

It is clear proponents of mandates could face opposition. Even before vaccinations were approved for younger adolescents, Republican lawmakers in dozens of statehouses filed bills seeking to block COVID-19 vaccination mandates, mostly arguing the vaccines are too new to force people to take against their will.

In Kansas, Republican state Senator Mark Steffen, an anesthesiologist, crafted a bill that would strip the state’s department of health of its power to add a new shot to the existing list of required vaccines. The bill remains in committee.

“It’s a vaccine that is experimental, a vaccine that is gene-manipulative,” Steffen said during a March hearing on the bill. “Its long-term dangers won’t be fully known for decades.”

Researchers from Harvard, Northeastern, Northwestern and Rutgers universities, who are part of the COVID States Project, surveyed nearly 22,000 people nationwide in April and found that over a quarter of mothers were “extremely unlikely” to vaccinate their children.

Because of such reluctance, education leaders should not focus on mandating shots, said Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers (AFT)union.

“Right now it’s about convincing people of their efficacy,” she said of vaccines. “We have to build trust and confidence, particularly amongst our Black and brown parents who have borne the brunt of COVID.”

YEARNING FOR NORMALCY

Weingarten and others representing school leaders and staff noted wide agreement that vaccines are key to a more normal school experience.

In a sweeping policy speech given on Thursday in Washington, Weingarten said in-person learning, five days a week across the country must take place in the fall.

She said that ATF polling of parents shows that vaccines – along with social distancing, masking and testing – were mandatory to winning parents’ confidence in sending kids back to school. Recent polling by the ATF and the NAACP shows 94% of parents would be comfortable with their children attending school in-person with those safety measures in place.

The Los Angeles Unified school district, the second-largest in the country with nearly 650,000 students, has been among the most proactive on vaccines for pupils. Fifteen vaccination clinics are located in L.A. schools.

Superintendent Austin Beutner said during a Monday news conference that he wants a vaccine available to every middle and high school student as soon as possible.

Some private schools are moving ahead with mandates. In Connecticut, students attending the 5th-12th grade St. Luke’s school in New Canaan learned on Tuesday that they must take the COVID-19 vaccine to attend in the fall.

Mark Davis, the head of St. Luke’s, said the mandate was made in conjunction with a health task force, largely composed of parents who are physicians.

Key to the policy was guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that fully vaccinated people do not need to quarantine if exposed to the coronavirus. That means kids would almost certainly remain in the classroom full-time if they got the shot.

Most parents of the school’s nearly 600 students overwhelmingly support the mandate, Davis said, adding that four or five families expressed concerns.

Davis said he understood COVID-19 has set off pitched debates, but pointed to the long history of mandated vaccines for diseases such as polio and whooping cough and the benefits of in-class learning for kids.

“It’s such a shame that the issue of vaccines has become politicized,” Davis said. “It’s a critical step toward a much-needed return to the school experience that we all yearn for.”

(Reporting by Brad Brooks in Lubbock, Texas; Editing by Donna Bryson, Aurora Ellis and Bill Berkrot)

U.S. schools turn focus to mental health of students reeling from pandemic

By Maria Caspani and Hannah Beier

OREFIELD, Pa. (Reuters) – As COVID-19 upended education during the past year, Pennsylvania middle school teacher Jennifer Lundberg often began her English lessons gauging the mental wellbeing of her students.

Sometimes, she would turn the lights off and dedicate a few minutes of in-person class to walking the kids through exercises that asked them to identify stressors they were experiencing.

With her own teenage daughter suffering from bouts of depression and anxiety brought on by the pandemic, the veteran teacher saw evidence all around her of the urgent need for mental health support for young people.

“They are struggling in a way that I feel like a lot of times they don’t even have words for,” Lundberg said. “I’ve had students who have left in the middle of the day to go to the ER to get evaluated.”

Lundberg teaches in the Parkland School District in Allentown, where school officials said the coronavirus has been a catalyst for getting better mental health training for staff and care for its more than 9,000 students.

Educators across the country agreed students’ mental wellbeing became a bigger priority after the pandemic forced schools to shut down or operate with a mix of remote and in-person learning. Some students struggled to focus, and isolation, worry and depression took a toll on many.

A Reuters survey earlier this year of U.S. school districts serving more than 2.2 million students found that a majority reported multiple indicators of increased mental health stresses among students.

Those concerns have led to a flood of new funding and initiatives aimed at helping schools navigate the pandemic’s aftermath.

The federal COVID-19 relief package included $122 billion for K-12 schools to implement “strategies to meet the social, emotional, mental health and academic needs” of the hardest-hit students. President Joe Biden’s budget proposal released in April includes another $1 billion to add nurses and mental health services in public schools.

In Utah, a bill signed in March makes mental health a valid excuse for a school absence. Similar legislation has been introduced in other states including Connecticut and Maryland.

Next month, the National Center for School Mental Health will launch ClassroomWISE. The free online course will train U.S. teachers and school staff on how to create a safe and supporting classroom environment, and how to support students with mental health concerns.

Districts nationwide have said the pandemic “has kind of given them a vitamin D shot” in terms of awareness and resources, said Sharon Hoover, co-director of the government-funded center. Sustained focus will be needed for success, she added.

“We’d be kind of kidding ourselves if we think everyone’s going to walk into school doors and things go back to normal,” Hoover said.

FRESH MOMENTUM

Many districts still lack sufficient resources and training, however. And experts say even where there are protocols and initiatives already in place, the severity and novelty of some circumstances amid the pandemic pose challenges.

Amy Molloy, the director of school mental health resources at the non-profit Mental Health Association in New York State, said she thought the state’s schools were well-positioned to attend to students’ mental health thanks to legislation passed in recent years before COVID-19 hit.

But the toll of the pandemic is hard to predict.

“There’s a lot of concern and uncertainty about what kind of trauma experiences, what kind of grief and loss, what kind of enhanced mental health problems… are students bringing back,” Molloy said.

Before the coronavirus, insurance roadblocks had hampered the Parkland School District’s efforts to provide students with one-on-one psychotherapy sessions for their mental health needs, said Brenda DeRenzo, the director of student services.

The pressure created by COVID-19 allowed the Pennsylvania district to finally overcome the financial hurdles through a partnership last fall with a local hospital that linked its middle and high school students with licensed clinicians.

This fall, when students return to full-time in-person learning, the district will implement programs to help them readjust to school and reconnect with their peers.

One initiative will link students to community outreach programs such as a food drive or a nursing home in an effort to rebuild the camaraderie lost to the pandemic, DeRenzo said.

Lundberg, who teaches at Orefield Middle School, said she plans to start hosting morning meetings with parents to facilitate more communication about how their children are coping.

“These kids are good kids, they’re just done; they’re burned out,” she said.

(Reporting by Maria Caspani and Hannah Beier in Orefield, Pennsylvania, Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Cynthia Osterman)

Gunmen abduct 30 students in northwest Nigeria as payoffs ‘boomerang’

By Garba Muhammad

KADUNA, Nigeria (Reuters) – Gunmen kidnapped around 30 students in an overnight raid on a forestry college in northwest Nigeria, an official said on Friday, the fourth mass school abduction since December in a country where violence is on the increase.

An armed gang broke into the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, located on the outskirts of Kaduna city near a military academy, at around 11:30 p.m. (2230 GMT) on Thursday, Kaduna state’s security commissioner, Samuel Aruwan said.

After a distress call, the army rescued 180 people in the early hours of Friday but “about 30 students, a mix of males and females, are yet to be accounted for,” he said.

“A combined team of army, air force, police and DSS (Department of State Services) troops are conducting an operation to track the missing students.”

The city is the capital of Kaduna state, part of a region where banditry has festered for years. Hours before the kidnapping, Nigeria’s federal government said it would “take out” abductors after earlier criticizing local deals to free victims.

Kaduna resident Haruna Salisu said he had heard sporadic gunshots at around 11:30 p.m. on Thursday from the area of the compound, where the concrete perimeter wall had a large hole in it on Friday.

“We were not panicking, thinking that it was a normal military exercise being conducted at the (nearby) Nigerian Defense Academy,” he said by phone.

“We came out for dawn prayers, at 5:20 a.m., and saw some of the students, teachers and security personnel all over the school premises. They told us that gunmen raided the school and abducted some of the students.”

On Friday morning, relatives of students gathered at the gates of the college, which was surrounded by around 20 army trucks.

RANSOM

The trend of abduction from boarding schools was started by the jihadist group Boko Haram, which seized 270 schoolgirls from a school at Chibok in the northeast in 2014. Around 100 of them have never been found.

Armed criminal gangs seeking ransom have since carried out copycat attacks.

Within the last few weeks, 279 schoolgirls were freed after being abducted from their boarding school at Jangebe in northwest Nigeria’s Zamfara state. In the north-central state of Niger, 27 teenage boys were released after being kidnapped from their school, along with three staff and 12 family members. One student was shot dead in that attack.

Military and police attempts to tackle the gangs have had little success, while many worry that state authorities are making the situation worse by letting kidnappers go unpunished, paying them off or providing incentives.

In Zamfara, state government officials said they had given ‘reformed bandits’ access to land for cattle grazing, while also building schools and medical facilities. They do not specifically identify the recipients as kidnappers.

In late February, the presidency said President Muhammadu Buhari had urged state governments to “review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles, warning that the policy might boomerang disastrously.”

Buhari held talks with security officials and traditional leaders on Thursday to discuss the country’s multiple security challenges. The national security adviser, Babagana Monguno, after the talks said the government would take a tough stance on criminal gangs.

“The new direction of government is to come out with full force. We have decided to apply the full weight of the law. We will come down on them wherever we locate them and take them out,” he told reporters in the capital, Abuja, without providing further details.

The unrest has become a political problem for Buhari, a retired general and former military ruler who has faced mounting criticism over the rise in violent crime, and replaced his long-standing military chiefs earlier this year.

(Additional reporting by Tife Owolabi in Yenagoa, Alexis Akwagyiram in Lagos, Felix Onuah in Abuja, and Maiduguri Newsroom; Writing by Kevin Liffey and Alexis Akwagyiram; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

How to prepare for a school year like no other

By Beatrix Lockwood

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Parents, teachers and students nationwide are preparing for a school year like no other. As part of our #AskReuters Twitter chat series, Reuters gathered a group of experts to discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed K-12 education.

Below are edited highlights.

How can parents, students and teachers prepare for the coming school year?

“Slow things down! Take your expectations of what’s possible in classrooms and cut them in half. Generally, teachers haven’t been given nearly enough time to reconfigure their teaching practices. Give them some slack. Zoom fatigue is real.”

— Antero Garcia, assistant professor at Stanford University

“Being prepared means being flexible. Schools will likely have to open and close based on transmission rates in their communities and cases in schools.”

— John Bailey, visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute

How will learning in 2020-2021 academic year look different, now that we’ve had a few months to plan?

“We hope to see districts adapt and improve quickly. There are a lot of thoughtful and creative reopening plans. Over the next few weeks, we will be highlighting promising approaches to address both health and learning needs, whether in person or remote.”

— Robin Lake, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education

“One of the questions of this school year is: Will remote instruction be improved? District officials say yes, but still many kids don’t have what they need tech-wise and much time this summer was spent working on health and safety, not instruction.”

— Matt Barnum, education policy reporter at Chalkbeat

Are there ways to replicate the social, emotional and non-academic experiences children get in school if they are not physically in the classroom?

“That is the hardest part for both K-12 and higher ed. Youth life is gradually resuming in places where the virus rates are low enough – distanced soccer and the rest. We need to get kids together physically at a distance to do some of these things.”

— Jal Mehta, professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

Can you talk about the technology gap, and how it is impacting learning? What resources are available to breach the digital divide?

“Far too many students are being left behind from distance learning as they lack internet access at home and a dependable device. Many teachers also lack the connectivity they need to deliver remote instruction and support student learning.”

— National Parent Teachers Association

“From a culturally responsive-sustaining perspective, we see that young people access tech in ways that are not fully clear to those who design education – through video games, cellphones, and other digital devices that could also be used to curate a learning experience.”

— David E. Kirkland, executive director at The NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and The Transformation of Schools

How is the pandemic impacting children with special needs? What advice do you have to help kids with developmental challenges learn now?

“Communication will be key. Parents need to understand what schools are doing to provide their children with the needed interventions, related services and accommodations. And educators will need to check-in with parents to see what’s working.”

— Laura Schifter, lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

Disruption can lead to transformation. How will education change, post-COVID?

“Frankly, we will have failed our children if this next decade isn’t transformational. We can’t wait any longer to take on the major systemic problems holding kids back. Now is the time to build a world grounded in the real needs and aspirations of all students.”

— Teach For America

“The transformation of education will be shaped by how we perceive the disruption. Education is always evolving and opportune. This is an opportunity to increase attention to inequity in education and the critical social and emotional needs of students ahead.”

— Rebecca Kullback, co-founder of LaunchWell and Metropolitan Counseling Associates

(Editing by Lauren Young and Aurora Ellis)

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)