news·5 min read

Daily Skimm: Back to School, DNC, and A New Girl Scout Cookie

A public school in New York City
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Aug 20, 2020

Back From School

The Story

The US is no closer to figuring out what to do with schools.

Because of COVID-19?

Exactly. For weeks, educators across the country have been pulled in different directions about reopening. On the one hand, many parents have struggled to balance working and teaching their kids at home. And schools have also faced mounting pressure from the Trump admin to reopen – and potentially lose funding if they don't. On the other hand, some teachers, staff, and parents have been pushing for online learning to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Schools across the country have taken different approaches to reopening. Here's what's happened to some after they opened the doors:

K-12…Some schools in states like IndianaTennessee, and Georgia have had to temporarily cancel in-person learning because students and teachers tested positive for the coronavirus. In one Georgia high school, 500 students were forced to quarantine after 25 of them tested positive. Now, many of these schools are saying 'see you online.'

Colleges and universities...A growing number of higher education institutions (Notre Dame and Michigan State) were forced to go online-only after trying their hand at reopening. Earlier this week, UNC-Chapel Hill said 'bye' to in-person classes after at least 130 students tested positive for the virus during its first week back. And other schools have done the same.

How are people taking this?

Some teachers unions are threatening to strike and demand more safety measures. In California, they've fought for more protections and more funding. Same thing in New York – where all school districts can reopen, and teachers want things like antibody and COVID-19 testing for students and staff. In Florida, they've sued state officials over the governor's order requiring all schools to open. And in New Jersey, schools now have a fully remote option after the teachers unions pressured the governor, but only if they can prove they cannot reopen safely.


With more than 5 million coronavirus cases and over 170,000 deaths in the US, schools have struggled for months to figure out how to reopen safely – for families, teachers, and staff. And now, as more students head back to school, there are still no easy answers for how to do that.

And Also...This

Who's started a new chapter in (her)story…

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). Yesterday, she accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president at the DNC – officially making her the first Black woman and first person of Indian descent on a major party's ticket. Harris was introduced by her sister, niece, and stepdaughter and said she stood on the "shoulders" of Black women – including civil rights and political leaders – who came before her. She also paid tribute to her mom – an Indian immigrant – who taught her about "service to others." And talked about her background as a prosecutor and how she and Joe Biden would fight racial injustice and the COVID-19 pandemic.

What's asking for some changes...

The US. Today, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to formally demand the UN reimpose sanctions against Iran for violating the 2015 nuclear deal. Reminder: last year, Iran broke the terms of the deal by enriching nuclear fuel beyond the levels that were allowed. Now, the Trump admin says the country should be punished. The only problem? The US withdrew from the deal in 2018 and the other countries in the agreement (UK, China, France, Germany, and Russia) say the US has no right to get involved again now. It's unclear what the UN will decide – and it could mean a big fight ahead between the US and its allies.

What people are watching...

Russia. Today, the country's opposition leader Alexei Navalny was put on a ventilator and is in intensive care after a suspected poisoning left him unconscious, his spokesperson said. Navalny is a 44-year-old open critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and has repeatedly been arrested and jailed for organizing opposition protests. He also tried to run against Putin in the 2018 presidential election but was barred by authorities. Now, his spokesperson says he could have been poisoned when he had tea before his flight from Tomsk, Siberia, back to Moscow, Russia. He began feeling unwell, causing the plane to make an emergency landing. Doctors say he is now in "serious condition." But the alleged poisoning had yet to be confirmed. Putin has not commented on the situation.

What's setting off alarms…

California. Earlier this week, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) declared a state of emergency as nearly 370 fires (believed to be caused in part by over 10,000 lightning strikes) have erupted in the last few days. The fires have destroyed and damaged at least 100 homes and more than 46,000 acres of land in Northern California alone. Thousands of people are being told to evacuate. And the pilot of a firefighting helicopter was killed when it crashed yesterday in central California. All of this as the state also deals with a record-breaking heat wave, high winds, and recent rolling power outages.

What's got people's attention…

Flint, MI. The state of Michigan has reportedly reached a $600 million settlement with the victims of the Flint water crisis. In 2014, city and state officials in Flint switched the city's water supply to a local river to save money. But the water wasn't treated properly, and tens of thousands of people were exposed to dangerous levels of lead – creating a public health crisis. Now, a plan that's been in the works for 18 months will reportedly offer compensation – with most of the money going to some of the youngest victims of the crisis. The settlement will reportedly be announced tomorrow and would still need to be approved by a federal judge.

What isn't roaring rn…

The 'Tiger King' zoo.

Who's giving you a (new) reason to eat cookies for breakfast...

Girl Scouts.

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