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Leading the News
At Least 6,300 Coronavirus Infections Are Linked To About 270 Colleges In U.S., Survey Suggests
The New York Times (7/29, Cai, Ivory, Smith, Lemonides, Higgins) reports that “as college students and professors decide whether to head back to class, and as universities weigh how and whether to reopen, the coronavirus is already on campus.” A survey by the New York Times “of every public four-year college in the country, as well as every private institution that competes in Division I sports or is a member of an elite group of research universities, revealed at least 6,300 cases tied to about 270 colleges over the course of the pandemic. And the new academic year has not even begun at most schools.”
Coronavirus Surge Derails College Plans To Have In-Person Fall Classes
MarketWatch (7/29, Berman) reports that “roughly 14% of colleges” are “planning for a remote semester this fall, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.” In the late spring, “about 68% of colleges that had announced their plans for the fall said they would offer in-person instruction, according to the Chronicle’s tracker at the time.” Now, “just 48% say they will be fully in person.” Elite colleges like Harvard University and state public systems like Rutgers University have said they’ll offer classes almost completely online. Some schools like Spelman College, Morehouse College and Clark-Atlanta University “that made announcements earlier in the year indicating they’d bring students back have changed their plans.”
USA Today (7/29, Quintana) reports that “after planning ways to reopen campuses this fall, colleges are increasingly changing their minds, dramatically increasing online offerings or canceling in-person classes outright.” This sudden shift “will be familiar to students whose spring plans were interrupted by the rapid spread of the coronavirus.” Now, COVID-19 cases “in much of the country are much higher than in the spring, and rising in many places.” In many cases, “the colleges had released plans for socially distant in-person classes only a few weeks ago, hoping to beat the coronavirus.” Said Robert Kelchen, a professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, “Instead, the virus beat us.”
Report: Students Ready To Return To College
Inside Higher Ed (7/29, Whitford) reports that “most college students plan to return to school in the fall, and they feel comfortable doing so, according to a report released Tuesday.” The report from Sallie Mae and Ipsos “found that more than 60 percent of families believe that the COVID-19 pandemic will not have a long-term impact on their student’s education.” Only 7% of students “have decided to take time off or enroll in a different college or university.” More families than ever “have a plan to pay for college, the survey found.” Fifty-eight percent of families “report having a plan during the 2019-20 academic year, compared to 44 percent of families in the 2018-19 academic year.”
Undergraduates Approach New School Year With Uncertainty
The Washington Post (7/28, Heim) reports that “many of the approximately 17 million undergraduate students across the country this summer who are uncertain when or if their school would be able to reopen safely” have “been caught in a waiting game” as some schools “announced they would begin the year with in-person classroom cleaning.” Others, “including Harvard, Rutgers and the University of Southern California, pushed almost all classes online for the fall.” Many more schools “proposed a mix of online and in-person options.” As the dates “approach for students to arrive on campuses and actually begin classes, colleges and universities are still figuring out the best way to make that happen.” The Post further reports on the uncertainty of recently graduated high school seniors and their upcoming freshman year.
Colleges Reduce Tuition Costs As Pandemic Continues
Education Dive (7/29, Bauer-Wolf) reports that “the rising number of verified coronavirus cases has many colleges confronting a bleak truth: that despite their initial plans, the fall term will likely be virtual.” Now, administrators “fear that students and families unwilling to pay regular tuition costs for a digital course load, or without a compelling campus experience, will further jeopardize their already uncertain enrollments.” Fewer students “would mean less money at a time when institutions’ budgets are imperiled.” In recent weeks, “several colleges have reduced the cost of attendance as a way to appeal to students.”
Campus Drop-Offs Unrecognizable As Schools Struggle To Reopen
The New York Times (7/29, Weed) reports on the “poignant annual tradition of college drop-off,” where “parents driving the new, nervous college student to school...setting up the tiny dorm room together, sharing one last meal with the entire family, then waving goodbye” has become the “latest family milestone rendered almost unrecognizable by the coronavirus pandemic.” Families now “need to navigate how to best get to campus while minimizing their exposure to the virus, all while trying to adhere to changing and often confusing school and state health, safety and travel rules.”
UNC Removes Four Names From School Buildings, Citing Racist Ties
The AP (7/29) reports that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill trustees “voted Wednesday to remove the names of four men who have ties to white supremacy and racism from campus buildings.” The campus Board of Trustees “voted to remove the names of Charles B. Aycock, Julian S. Carr, Josephus Daniels and Thomas Ruffin Sr..” The university’s Commission on History, Race & A Way Forward “said the men used their power to disenfranchise Black people.”
Georgetown University Will Start Fall Semester Online
The Washington Post (7/29, Lumpkin) reports that Georgetown University “will begin the school year online, the campus’s president announced Wednesday, rescinding previous plans to conduct courses online and in-person this fall.” The school “joins George Washington University this week in amending its plans for the fall as novel coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country.” Georgetown University John J. DeGioia “cited the rapid spread of the virus and new travel restrictions in a message he sent to the campus community.” D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) recently “announced that students and other travelers from 27 virus hot spots would have to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in the city, and extended the city’s emergency declarations through Oct. 9.”
MacKenzie Scott Donates Millions To HBCUs
Education Dive (7/29, Bauer-Wolf) reports philanthropist MacKenzie Scott announced this week that she donated tens of millions to several HBCUs: Howard University, Hampton University, Tuskegee University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Xavier University of Louisiana. Not all of the universities have disclosed the amount Scott gave, but “at least four of the donations are the largest single gifts in the respective schools’ histories.”
Xavier University Of Louisiana Receives Anonymous Donation Of $20M. The Hill (7/29, Kelley) reports that Xavier University of Louisiana, “a historically Black college, received an anonymous donation Tuesday of $20 million – the largest in the school’s 100-year history.” University officials “released a statement saying that the donation represents ‘an entrée into a new era of fundraising’ at the nearly century-old school.” Xavier’s announcement of its donation “comes at the same time that MacKenzie Scott, writer and ex-wife of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, wrote in a statement that she donated nearly $1.7 billion of her wealth across about 120 organizations.”
HBCUs Look To E-Sports As Fall Sports Are Cancelled
Diverse Issues in Higher Education (7/29, Weissman) reports that “as the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on traditional fall sports, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are leaning into a growing athletic trend: esports.” The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference “announced earlier this month that it was canceling all fall sports,” additionally announcing “that it’s partnering with Blaze Fire Games to launch an esports league for HBCUs.” On July 5, HBCU Heroes, “a nonprofit to support historically Black colleges, held its first HBCU esports competition.” Individual HBCUs like “Hampton University, Johnson C. Smith University, Florida Memorial University and Lincoln University started dipping a toe into the multimillion (approaching billion) dollar industry.”
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Research and Development
NASA Targets Sunday For Return Of Demo-2 Astronauts From ISS
SPACE (7/29, Howell) reports that NASA said in a statement that the agency and SpaceX plan to land astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken off the coast of Florida on Sunday at 2:42 p.m. The astronauts will land “in one of these locations: off the coasts of Pensacola, Tampa, Tallahassee, Panama City, Cape Canaveral, Daytona or Jacksonville, NASA said in the same statement.” The “return time for the astronauts will take between six and 30 hours, depending on the exact undocking and splashdown zones chosen.” NASA expects that the SpaceX Crew Dragon will undock from the ISS at 7:34 p.m. Saturday.
CBS News (7/29, Harwood) reports that the landing would be the “first piloted re-entry of a Crew Dragon spacecraft and NASA’s first ocean landing in 45 years.” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters Wednesday, “The return flight readiness review is complete and the NASA team and the SpaceX team, everybody remains ‘go’ for return.”
Tropical Storm Could Delay Demo-2 Return. The AP (7/29, Dunn) reports that NASA is “targeting a Sunday splashdown, right around the time rough weather is expected to hit Florida.” The “weather system was in the eastern Caribbean on Wednesday and was expected to develop into a tropical storm.” NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager Steve Stich “said flight controllers will closely monitor the weather and, if necessary, keep the astronauts at the space station until conditions improve.” Bridenstine said, “If the weather isn’t good or the sea states aren’t good, we’re going to take our time bringing Bob and Doug home. Our No. 1 highest priority is their safety.”
Boeing Reports Second-Quarter Earnings, Announces Production, Job Cuts
The Wall Street Journal (7/29, Cameron, Tangel, Subscription Publication) reports Boeing announced Wednesday that it lost $2.4 billion in the second quarter of 2020. The New York Times (7/29, Chokshi) reports that Boeing’s “revenues plunged 25 percent, to $11.8 billion, in the quarter compared with last year, a loss driven by its struggling commercial business and partially offset by its government, defense and space programs.” The company “previously announced plans to slash about 16,000 jobs worldwide, or about a tenth of its work force, and warned on Wednesday that more cuts could come.” CNBC (7/29, Josephs, Wilkie) reports that “revenue for Boeing’s defense and space unit was little changed from the second quarter a year ago at $6.6 billion.”
Reuters (7/29, Ajmera, Johnson) reports that Boeing “slashed production of its biggest twin-engined jets, delayed its new 777X by up to a year and began sunsetting the iconic 747 as it posted a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss dominated by the COVID pandemic on Wednesday.” Boeing “said it would cut 787 output to six a month in 2021 – down from a previous goal of seven and the third such cut since a year ago when output touched a record 14 a month.” The company “also plans to cut combined output of the 777 mini-jumbo and its new 777X sister model to two a month in 2021 from a previous goal of three, while delaying the 777X entry to service by a year to 2022, confirming a Reuters report.” Boeing CEO David Calhoun told employees that Boeing will “have to further assess the size of our workforce.”
The Associated Press (7/29, Koenig) reports that Boeing’s loss was “far worse than Wall Street expected,” and Calhoun believes that it may take three years for commercial air travel to reach 2019 levels.
Airbus Posts Second-Quarter Earnings, Says It Trimmed A350 Production
Reuters (7/30) reports that on Thursday, Airbus “reported an adjusted second-quarter operating loss of 1.226 billion euros ($1.44 billion) as revenues slid 55% to 8.317 billion euros,” representing “a larger-than-expected second-quarter loss amid the coronavirus crisis.” In addition, the company “said it had trimmed A350 production to five jets a month, after bringing the monthly rate down from 9.5 to six in April.”
Bloomberg (7/30, Ryan) reports that Airbus “delivered 74 planes in the quarter, when global fleets were largely grounded, less than one-third of the year-ago tally.” CEO Guillaume Faury said, “We believe it’s going to be a long and slow recovery.” Single-aisle “plane production could ramp up again from 2022, though air traffic is unlikely to recover to fully until some time between 2023 and 2025, he said.” Airbus, “which has logged just 25 orders since the end of January, posted an adjusted loss of 1.31 billion euros for the first half before interest and tax, including the charge, compared with a 2.19 billion-euro profit a year earlier.” The AP (7/30) reports that in the first half of 2020, Airbus “said Thursday that its deliveries fell almost 50% to 196, with revenue sliding almost 40% to 18.9 billion euros.”
Engineering and Public Policy
U.S. Treasury Secretary: Negotiators “Very Far Apart” On COVID-19 Relief Package
Reuters (7/29, Zengerle, Morgan, Cornwell) reports congressional Republicans and Democrats, “struggling to reach a deal to provide more aid to those hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, slid on Wednesday toward letting a $600-per-week unemployment benefit lapse when it expires this week.” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin “said there was a ‘subset of issues’ on which all sides agree, including more personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and increased funds for education.” However, Mnuchin added, “overall, we’re far from an agreement.”
CQ Roll Call (7/29, Shutt, Lesniewski, McPherson) reports that after meeting for an hour in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, Mnuchin said, “We’re still very far apart on a lot of issues. ... I do think there is a subset of issues that we do agree on, but overall we’re far from an agreement.” Mnuchin “said there are areas like a second round of Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans, education funding to help schools safely reopen and worker retention tax credits for hard-hit businesses where the two sides can come together.”
The AP (7/29, Mascaro) reports Mnuchin, “who is leading the negotiations, said ‘the president is very focused’ on unemployment aid and assistance for renters.” CBS News (7/29, Segers) reports Mnuchin told reporters, “As of now, we’re very far apart. And because of that, the president and we have discussed a short-term extension to UI, and the evictions, so that we have some period to negotiate before this runs out.” On its website, CNBC (7/29, Pramuk) reports Mnuchin “said President Donald Trump would support approving short-term legislation to allow more time for talks if the parties fail to strike an agreement before Friday.” Politico (7/29, Levine, Ferris, Desiderio) reports Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows “have suggested a so-called skinny deal, which would tackle narrower issues one at time.” However, as of Wednesday afternoon, “a short-term fix appeared unattainable, with Democrats rejecting it as a nonstarter and accusing the GOP of further stalling the talks.”
The New York Times (7/29, Cochrane, Tankersley), The Washington Post (7/29, Werner, Stein, Kim), The Hill (7/29, Chalfant), PBS NewsHour (7/29, Woodruff, Bush), USA Today (7/29, Wu, Behrmann), NBC News (7/29, Kapur, Caldwell, Tsirkin), Bloomberg (7/29, Egkolfopoulou) and MarketWatch (7/29, Nicholson), among other outlets, also report.
Growing Number Of Senate Republicans Open To A Smaller Coronavirus Package. The Hill (7/29, Carney) reports a “growing number” of GOP senators “are signaling an openness to putting forward a smaller coronavirus package.” Mnuchin and Meadows “met with a core group of GOP senators – including Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Senate Health, Labor, Education and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) – a meeting senators characterized less as Mnuchin and Meadows pitching senators on a specific agreement than taking the temperature of lawmakers.” One GOP senator who attended the meeting said Mnuchin and Meadows “didn’t make a pitch. They were just explaining where they thought we were and asking for ideas.” The senator “added that Mnuchin and Meadows did not repeat Trump’s pitch, which he floated as he was leaving the White House, of doing a smaller deal on an eviction moratorium and unemployment insurance.”
Small Businesses Nearing Breaking Points As Talks Over Economic Recovery Package Continue
Reuters (7/29, Saphir, Marte) reports that many small businesses “are reaching...breaking points in an economy with the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression. Small firms have survived the pandemic so far with a mix of government aid, forbearance on debt and rent and creativity in selling to an increasingly homebound and financially distressed populace.” The first wave of aid is running short and “lawmakers are in tense negotiations over a new round of stimulus, which could include more money for small business.”
Kids Invent Eco-Friendly Building Blocks, Lasers Preventing Roof Collapse At LEGO Awards
Forbes (7/29, Blake) senior contributor Rich Blake says that “every year, across North America, roughly 4,000 flat roofs, such as those atop warehouses and box stores, cave in under the weight of snow,” and a team of seventh and eighth graders using LEGOs has now “devised an automated early-detection system using fiberoptic laser sensors and a prototype was built.” A group of students at William Grizzell Middle School in Dublin, Ohio “have created a patent-pending Roof Evaluating Strain Tool (REST) system able to detect when open-truss beams are beginning to even slightly buckle.” The students “were among 20 other semi-finalist teams, out of more than 1,000 total competitors, recognized in June at the tenth annual FIRST LEGO League Challenge’s Global Innovation Awards presented by Disney.” The winning team, “Aldeatrón Robotix, hailing from The Canary Islands, Spain, designed eco-friendly, temperature-controlled building blocks; the other runner-up, QuickBots, a team from Dayton, Ohio, invented a thermochromic cooling agent for scalding hot playground equipment.”
Wednesday's Lead Stories
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