News from around our 50 states

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Montgomery Public Schools board Vice President Claudia Mitchell and board President Clare Weil speak during a protest at the MPS central office in Montgomery, Ala., on Tuesday, which was the first day of in-person classes after nine weeks of virtual learning because of the coronavirus. (Photo: Jake Crandall/ Advertiser)

Montgomery: Thousands of students across the state who’ve spent the coronavirus pandemic in virtual classrooms are returning to traditional instruction despite safety concerns and continuing school shutdowns linked to COVID-19. Schools in Jefferson County began allowing elementary students to return to class full time Monday, and additional systems that have offered online classes will reopen buildings on a full-time basis through next week. Walter Gonsoulin, the Jefferson County superintendent, said the system planned to stay open unless there is a state or national mandate requiring a shutdown. As public schools reopened Tuesday in Montgomery, a group of teachers and school workers who contend the system lacks an adequate safety plan held a small protest outside the central office. In Tuscaloosa, where classes resume Monday, social distancing won’t always be possible, spokeswoman Lesley Bruinton told WBMA-TV.


Juneau: The state Supreme Court on Monday affirmed a lower court ruling eliminating witness requirements for absentee ballots for the general election. Last week, Superior Court Judge Dani Crosby ruled enforcement of the witness requirements during the coronavirus pandemic “impermissibly burdens the right to vote.” She waited to put the order into effect, to allow the high court to weigh in. Laura Fox, an attorney for the state, had asked the Alaska Supreme Court to keep in place the witness requirements, arguing that a change in rules, when voting is already underway, “will cause confusion and distrust.” “This is telling the voters, yeah, we know you have all of these printed materials saying that


Trump, Biden zero in on swing states that are key to victory

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JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (AP) — With Election Day just three weeks away, President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden concentrated Tuesday on battleground states both see as critical to clinching an Electoral College victory, tailoring their travel to best motivate voters who could cast potentially decisive ballots.

Biden went to Florida to court seniors, looking to deliver a knockout blow in a state Trump needs to win while trying to woo a group whose support for the president has slipped. And Trump visited Pennsylvania, arguably the most important state on the electoral map, unleashing fierce attacks on Biden’s fitness for office in his opponent’s backyard.

“He’s shot, folks. I hate to tell you, he’s shot,” Trump told a big rally crowd in Johnstown, saying there was extra pressure on him to win because Biden was the worst presidential candidate of all time. “Can you imagine if you lose to a guy like this? It’s unbelievable.”

In his second rally since contracting the coronavirus, Trump spoke for more than an hour to a crowd of thousands packed in tightly and mostly maskless. Like the night before in Florida, Trump seemed healthy, and his rhetoric on the pandemic — including the dubious claim that it was mostly a thing of the past — changed little despite his own illness, except for his threat to kiss audience members to prove his immunity.

Trump made a local pitch, hammering home the claim that a Democratic administration could limit fracking in areas where the economy is heavily dependent on energy, despite Biden’s proposal to only bar new leases on federal land, a fraction of U.S. fracking operations. And Trump, touting his elimination of a federal rule that would have brought more low-income housing to the suburbs, zeroed in on groups whose support he has struggled


Holocaust education required in some states — but not Ohio

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CLEVELAND, Ohio — The lessons of the Holocaust are considered so important that they are required education at schools in 15 states, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Ohio does not mandate Holocaust education, but efforts are underway to assure that teachers have sufficient resources to teach that subject, according to Howie Beigelman, executive director of Ohio Jewish Communities, which represents the eight Jewish federations in the state.

In the Ohio legislature, “there’s in a real tendency on both sides of the aisle for local control, so the kind of mandate [requiring Holocaust education] that other states have, would be unusual for Ohio,” Beigelman said.

However, in conversations with state legislators, he said, they’re interested in having more Holocaust resources, training and material available. Beigelman said the communities are more interested in strengthening Holocaust education than mandating it.

Sen. Michael A. Rulli has introduced legislation enhancing (but not mandating) holocaust education in Ohio schools, he said. That would establish a 15-member Holocaust Memorial and Eduction Commission, and office. Their role would include:

– Inventory current statewide memorial and genocide education programs and propose programming to fill any gaps.

– Recognize Holocaust and genocide survivors and make their stories accessible for education purposes.

– Partner with public and private organizations that serve Holocaust and genocide survivors, veterans and (concentration camp) liberators.

– Seek opportunities to provide resources for schools to effectively teach about the Holocaust and genocide.

See more Holocaust coverage

The need for such education has been heightened by the decreasing number of Holocaust survivors and concentration camp liberators, Beigelman said.

“We’re going to miss that [eyewitness testimony]. So anything we can do to help teachers and students access the right information in a relevant way is what’s really important at this point,” he said.

At the federal level,