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HBCUs get $15 million from Gates Foundation to expand coronavirus testing

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“This will give us a different level of capacity,” said Wayne A.I. Frederick, the president of Howard. “The intent was really to have all the HBCUs participate, and if you have 10 hubs . . . I think we do have the capacity to cover just about everyone.”

Howard aims to work with other D.C.-area HBCUs, including Morgan State and Coppin State universities in Baltimore and the University of the District of Columbia, Frederick said.

HBCUs and the communities they serve have been among the hardest hit by the coronavirus. Black colleges and universities, historically under-resourced, are being acutely affected by the financial crisis the pandemic ushered into the world of higher education. And Black Americans, in part because of disparities in health-care access that are exacerbated by economic inequality, are at an increased risk of contracting the coronavirus and dying of covid-19, the disease it causes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But university leaders are hopeful the support from the Gates Foundation will make a difference by bringing more tests and faster results to their communities.

“All of us are located in . . . communities where these disparities are occurring and where the impact, I believe, will be tremendously great,” said Larry Robinson, the president of Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. Florida A&M also was selected to be a testing hub. He said the university will process tests for three other HBCUs in Florida.

Other testing hubs announced Tuesday will be at Hampton University in Hampton, Va., Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, and Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans. Up to four more schools will be selected in the coming weeks, a Gates Foundation executive said.

“The colleges and universities will continue to need access to diagnostic

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SoftBank invests $215 million in education start-up Kahoot as coronavirus boosts e-learning

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  • Norwegian education platform Kahoot announced Tuesday that it’s raised $215 million from SoftBank.
  • It plans to use the fresh funds to fuel growth through new partnerships, joint ventures and acquisitions.
  • Educational technology, or “edtech,” has flourished this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.



Masayoshi Son wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Masayoshi Son, chairman and chief executive officer of SoftBank Group Corp., reacts during a dialog session with Jack Ma, former chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., not pictured, at Tokyo Forum 2019 in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019.


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Masayoshi Son, chairman and chief executive officer of SoftBank Group Corp., reacts during a dialog session with Jack Ma, former chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., not pictured, at Tokyo Forum 2019 in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019.

LONDON — SoftBank has invested $215 million in Norwegian education start-up Kahoot, taking a 9.7% stake in the company, as demand for online learning platforms skyrockets during the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Oslo-based firm said Tuesday it had agreed to sell 43 million new shares at a price of 46 Norwegian krone — or about $5 — per share to SoftBank. It plans to use funds raised from the deal to fuel growth through new partnerships, joint ventures and acquisitions, CEO Eilert Hanoa told CNBC.

“It’s all about the general switch in mindset from digital tools being a nice-to-have additional set of features in schools and classrooms, to being maybe the most important toolkit they can use to create engagement,” Hanoa said in an interview Tuesday.

Founded in 2012, Kahoot is a game-based learning service that lets players create and take part in multiple-choice quizzes. One side of the business focuses on schools and home learning, while the other centers on corporate clients looking to make training sessions and presentations.

How the pandemic fast-tracked the multibillion-dollar education technology industry

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Educational technology, or “edtech,” has flourished this year as the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to close and increased demand for remote learning software. That’s grabbed the attention of

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Meet the Brown University economist who argues that K-12 schools aren’t super-spreaders of the coronavirus

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ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 26,294 confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, after adding 167 new cases. The most recent overall daily test-positive rate was 1.7 percent, but the first-time positive rate was 5.5 percent. The state announced three more deaths, bringing the total to 1,130. There were 112 people in the hospital.

Today is supposed to be the first day of full in-person learning for every public school in Rhode Island, but it’s still unclear exactly how many of our schools aren’t quite ready to reopen.

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If you’re paying close attention to education in the age of the coronavirus, you might want to check out Brown University economist Emily Oster’s piece in The Atlantic on how schools don’t appear to be the super-spreaders of the virus that some predicted.

Oster agreed to answer a few questions for Rhode Map on the research she is doing.

Q: Your research shows infection rates have been quite low among both students and staff, but do we have a sense of whether kids just aren’t the super-spreaders we thought they might be, or if all the precautions that have been taken (like staggered schedules) are helping to prevent a spread?

Oster: My guess is that it is both. Schools in our data are taking a lot of precautions (especially masks), which likely matters a lot. Based on other data (Florida, for example), we haven’t seen huge outbreaks even though they are taking fewer of these.

But this is the kind of question we hope our data can help answer. Our next big analysis task, once we pull in another round of data, is to look at changes in case rates over time and correlate them with precautions. I’m especially eager to do this by age group. It

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FAFSA completion campaigns get creative in the age of coronavirus

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“We are adapting,” said Austin, a counselor with College Advising Corps., which deploys recent college graduates into high schools to guide students. “Students without reliable Internet at home may have trouble completing the form, which is a big motivation for doing a drive-in.”

Getting students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as FAFSA, will be no small feat this year. The pandemic has emptied school hallways where counselors can remind seniors to apply and has rendered unsafe face-to-face fairs advisers host to guide parents through the process.

The federal government, states and colleges use the FAFSA to determine need-based and some merit-based aid. Students, especially those from low-income households, miss out on billions of dollars in federal grants, work-study, subsidized student loans and state scholarships every year by failing to complete the form.

The stakes are high this year. Anemic tax revenue threatens state-sponsored scholarships just as many families find themselves grappling with job losses and furloughs. Applying early for financial aid gives students a better shot at first-come-first-serve state grants. It also means a jump-start on a process that will require a few more steps for families devastated by the recession to access the most aid.

Against that backdrop, college access groups and high school counselors are finding creative ways to reach students and their families. Some are holding FAFSA nights in parking lots with WiFi to let parents remain in their cars while advisers walk them through the application from a distance. Others are hosting virtual sessions through Zoom or beefing up websites with video tutorials and infographics for students.

“People are very concerned about so many other things right now, especially those from underserved communities,” said Shannon Grimsley, outreach program director at Get2College, a division of the nonprofit Woodward Hines Education Foundation

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Key ways Sullivan and Hayes differ on the economy and education in the coronavirus crisis

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The coronavirus crisis that continues to stifle jobs and schools across the nation is a key dividing line in the race for Connecticut’s most competitive congressional district.

A New Fairfield prosecutor trying to be the first Republican to represent the 5th District since 2006 says the direction voters wanted when they elected Donald Trump president in 2016 is the way out of the COVID-19 crisis for people in northwestern and central Connecticut.

But U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes says the correction voters wanted when they elected her and a Democratic majority to the House of Representatives in 2018 is the way to help schools in need and get the economy back on its feet in Connecticut.

Republican challenger David X. Sullivan, a retired assistant U.S. attorney, said he started out campaigning against Hayes but has wound up fighting a war against “Marxism.”

“We need to move forward to provide help to people, but we have to transition away from total dependency on the federal government,” Sullivan told Hearst Connecticut Media last week. “We want to get people back to work.”

Hayes, who first made the spotlight in 2016 as the national Teacher of the Year, said relief for jobs and schools in Connecticut’s 5th District can’t wait for the next election day mandate on Nov. 3.

“We are in a Democratic majority in the House and the bills we are passing reflect Democratic priorities, but they also reflect the priorities of the people of this district,” Hayes told Hearst Connecticut Media. “I vote for the plan that does the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people.”

Hayes’ and Sullivan’s comments came at the end of a week of virtual 5th District debates in Danbury and Waterbury, and a week of partisan debates in Washington, D.C., over a new

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