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West Chester University To Stay Remote Into Spring Semester

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WEST CHESTER, PA — West Chester University officials announced today that spring semester classes will continue with remote instruction, a move they say is precautionary with a view to a predicted second wave of the coronavirus.

“With the nation continuing to experience spikes in COVID-19 and scientists predicting a new surge due to cold weather, West Chester University is taking extra precautions to protect the community from a forecasted second wave of the virus by continuing remote and some hybrid (meaning both remote and in-person) academic instruction through the spring semester,” the university said in a media release Wednesday morning.

The university made the announcement this week in order to allow students and their families to plan as they soon being selecting their spring semester courses.

“Continuing remote instruction through spring 2021 will ensure that WCU students will be able to earn credits for academic degrees in an uninterrupted manner,” said West Chester University President Christopher Fiorentino.

“There is not enough information on the availability of rapid testing or a vaccine on a sufficient scale for us to be confident enough to announce and plan for a spring semester that includes a return to in-person instruction,” he added.

The university said it will continue to provide COVID-19 relief credits to both in-state and out-of-state students, full-time and part-time, for spring 2021, which will lower the total combined costs of tuition and fees.

Spring 2021 instruction will be delivered via Zoom Conferencing, Skype, email, and a variety of other remote modes of course delivery as determined by WCU faculty, much like it was delivered in fall. Some courses will continue to be offered in a hybrid format (both remote and in-person) to assist students with clinical placements, student teaching, performance obligations, internship sites, and similar academic responsibilities.

“Universities across the State

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Montana climate project to install remote weather stations

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MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — University of Montana researchers recently received a $21 million government contract, bringing more support and longevity to what has been a grassroots effort to build a better climate monitoring network across the state.

The funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will pay to expand and enhance a collaborative project spearheaded by UM’s Montana Climate Office in 2016 that aims to fill in gaps in weather and soil moisture data throughout the state.

“This project is very unique,” said Kelsey Jencso, a lead researcher and associate professor of watershed hydrology at UM. “This is a very applied project. It has a particular goal, which is to better monitor soil moisture, snowpack, weather hazards and climate conditions.”

Through partnerships with government agencies, including the Montana Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Land Management, Montana State University, watershed groups, and private farmers and ranchers, the Montana Climate Office, part of the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation, has installed 80 weather stations in the last four years across Montana.

Called Montana Mesonet, the project allows researchers and state agencies to better characterize drought conditions across Montana for planning around agriculture, water supplies and evolving fire conditions, Jencso said in a phone interview. With the additional money from the contract, they’ll be able to add stations in central and eastern portions of the state, where historically, data has been under measured.

“It’s not that snow doesn’t occur out in central and eastern Montana, it’s just that we don’t have stations to record that and so these data points become really important for daily models by the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and Weather Service flood forecast center,” Jencso told the Missoulian.


The $21 million Army Corps contract will cover new equipment and sensors and pay for

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Kent State University pushes spring break to April, will go remote for rest of spring semester

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KENT, Ohio — Kent State University has moved its 2021 spring break from March 29-April 4 to April 12-18, to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Afterward, all classes will be remote, through final exams May 6-12. The idea is to keep students and staff safe after a week of travel.

The school notified students and faculty Thursday, not long after Ohio State canceled its spring break. Kent State had 31 new COVID-19 cases the week of Sept. 20, according to its coronavirus dashboard. The school has had 125 total cases since July 7.

Manfred van Dulmen, interim associate provost for academic affairs, said in a news release that information about dining plans and residence halls for the spring semester will be coming soon.

“We wanted to make sure that students would have a break,” Van Dulmen told cleveland.com. “We know that a lot of students across the country really struggle with stress, anxiety, and it’s a very difficult time. So we wanted to figure out whether we could find a way to still give students a spring break, but not have students travel back and forth.”

Kent State is managing its spring break similar to how it’s handling Thanksgiving for the fall semester. The university will have no classes the week of the holiday and then go fully remote the rest of the semester. Van Dulmen thinks students will appreciate how the university is handling spring break.

The university’s spring course schedule will be available Oct. 5, and a mix of in-person and virtual classes will be offered. Registration begins Oct. 21.

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Education committee discusses long-term effects of remote learning

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Remote learning and school districts’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic were in the spotlight Wednesday at a Senate Education Committee and Higher Education Committee joint hearing.



a little girl sitting at a table


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The hearing was the latest in the Black Caucus’ agenda-building series of hearings focusing on education, criminal justice and health care.

Robin Steans, president of the education policy and advocacy organization Advance Illinois, said it is challenging to determine whether or not a teacher is reaching a student when they are not in the classroom.

“Just showing up and logging in is very different,” Steans said. “It is so much more challenging for a teacher to be able to understand whether a kid is really engaging in the material when you are trying to do things like hybrid fashion, remote, etc.”

Steans said being out of the classroom is causing kids to fall behind. She cited research that showed schools affected by Hurricane Katrina and long-running teacher strikes in Argentina had lasting effects on students, including lower incomes when they became adults.

“What you see in those events is that kids were, in fact, affected over time,” Steans said. “When things got back to normal, they didn’t necessarily get back on track.”

Dr. Barry Clark, executive director of Illinois Association of School Administrators, said it is a goal to get all Illinois students back into the classroom as soon as possible. To achieve that, he said schools will need access to a state-sponsored rapid response testing program. They will also have to prepare for the future.

“We need to think about what it is going to look like when there is a vaccine for COVID-19,” he said. “Is that going to be a requirement? If so, is it going to be a requirement to be in person

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Massachusetts education board votes to modify the definition of remote learning in regulations

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The state education board on Tuesday voted to approve amendments to regulations around how students go to school safely during a declared state of emergency, as officials said they plan to monitor the quality of remote learning in the coming months.

Massachusetts has been in a declared state of emergency for six months amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. After schools abruptly went online in the spring as virus cases spread, districts across the state now have a mix of in-person and online learning models.

The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted unanimously to approve amendments to regulations for student learning during an emergency, which call for districts to define remote learning and have plans that include a system for tracking attendance and participation, a policy for grading students’ remote academic work and a requirement that teachers and administrators regularly communicate with students’ parents and guardians, including providing interpretation and translation services, among other measures.

Amendments to the guidelines based on public comment include:

  • Adding a definition of “synchronous” and “asynchronous” learning to provide clarity on the scope of the concepts
  • Modifying the definition of remote learning to include that students have opportunities to regularly interact with teachers to address the concern that remote learning could consist of asynchronous learning only
  • Including “students” to the requirement that teachers and administrators regularly communicate with parents and guardians

Education officials continue to work with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families to make sure both departments are aligned on what is considered habitual truancy. With many students learning online full- or part-time this year, some have limited broadband internet access that could impact attendance online.

Officials said they are continuing to monitor remote learning to ensure students’ needs are being met.

BESE Chair Katherine Craven said the board will take up