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private Zoom tutors spark controversy as virtual school year looms

<span>Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images

Elyssa Katz, a Santa Monica mother of three, is growing a matchmaking service to connect families with tutors, or “Zutors”, as she calls them – a word she’s in the process of trademarking.

“The role of a Zutor is a tutor, a nanny, and an angel for a parent,” Katz told the Guardian, someone who can take over parental demands, help children with online homework and take them outside when it’s time for “recess”.

Katz’s clients range from the rich and famous, to everyday people who need childcare because they can’t look after their children while they have to work. Katz said she had gotten calls from parents as far away as the Hamptons.

For a matchmaking fee that can range from $700 to $1,000 (£549 to £785), Katz and her team will interview tutor candidates, run background and reference checks, then match them to the

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As the School Year Approaches, Education May Become the Pandemic’s Latest Casualty

Children tumble off a yellow school bus, where every other seat is marked with caution tape. Wearing whimsical masks—one has whiskers, another rhinestones—they wait to get their temperatures checked before filing into the one-story school building. Inside Wesley Elementary in Middletown, Conn., plastic shields rise from desks, and cartoon posters exhort children to cover your cough. In the middle of a lesson, teacher Susan Velardi picks up her laptop and pans it so her students can see the screen. “Look,” she tells them, “I have a friend that’s joining us at home!”

There’s a new set of ground rules in Velardi’s classroom. “Your mask is on, and your mask stays like this. If we go outside if it’s nice, we have to sit apart,” she tells the students, who will enter third grade in the fall. When one tries to high-five her, she compromises with an “air high five.” Other

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Illinois Teachers Union Says School Year Should Start Online

WESTMONT, IL — The union representing teachers in Illinois called for the school year to begin with remote learning. A return to in-person instruction is currently too risky, according to the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

In a statement issued Monday, the statewide teachers union provided a list of 10 safety measures that every school district and college needs for its members to feel safe returning to the classroom. Too many schools cannot achieve “critical safety benchmarks,” it said.

“We arrived at this position by having talked to our members extensively about how do we do this,” Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery said in the statement. “Our primary concern is keeping everybody safe — not only our members, but our students, their families and their communities. At this point, our recommendation is that schools should return to online or remote learning for the beginning of the school year. It

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Solano County Students To Start New School Year Online

SOLANO COUNTY, CA — As California Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out back-to-school guidelines for K-12 students across the state Friday, saying that students in counties on the state’s coronavirus monitoring list must start the school year online, the Solano County Office of Education confirmed all K-12 students in Solano County will start the school year with distance learning.

“Previously, some Solano County school districts and charter schools made plans to reopen school campuses with varying models of social distancing, modified schedules, and distance learning options for students,” SCOE Spokeswoman Jennifer Leonard said Friday in a news release.

“However, the newly issued orders require that schools located in counties on the state’s County Monitoring List must begin the school year with distance learning from home,” Leonard said. “Solano County is currently on the state’s County Monitoring List due to recent increased in COVID-19 cases.”

As to when students in Solano and

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Douglas County To Start 2020 School Year With Online Only

DOUGLASVILLE, GA — Douglas County schools will start the fall term offering online learning only, joining a growing number of Georgia districts that plan to keep kids out of classrooms for their own safety.

School will also start a week later than originally planned — on Aug. 17 instead of Aug. 10 — to allow extra time to issue learning devices to students and for teacher preparation.

Superintendent Trent North said in an email to parents Thursday that he made the decisions “after consultation with Cobb & Douglas Public Health and careful consideration of the health and safety of students and staff.” The letter is posted to the Douglas County School System’s website.

“The school system is authorized to make this independent decision based on the Executive Order issued by Governor Brian Kemp,” North said in the email. “I will share our decision with the Georgia Department of Education.”

North

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Fulton Schools Make Decision Regarding Beginning Of School Year

FULTON COUNTY, GA — Fulton County Schools Superintendent Mike Looney announced Thursday morning that students will begin the school year on Aug. 17 with the universal remote learning model.

“The data and information from our health partners is overwhelming. This virus is spreading and not slowing down,” Looney said. “I was hopeful the direction would change, but it is clear that we must pivot from the face-to-face model to the universal remote learning model in order to keep our students, their families, and our staff members safe.”

All school systems – including those in metro Atlanta, and across the nation – are challenged with similar dilemmas for how to start the 2020-2021 school year in the safest manner possible. Fulton County Schools is no different, and many parents, staff, students and the public have expressed concerns and asked questions.

With a district as large as Fulton County Schools – 106

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Will UConn play football this year? Public health experts unsure about fall sports during coronavirus pandemic

Currently, UConn football players are on campus in Storrs. They have been tested for COVID-19. They have passed through a modified quarantine period during which they remained in small groups. They have completed strength and conditioning workouts. They have begun on-field activities.

But no one knows for sure whether they’ll actually get to play.

Amid a raging pandemic, public health experts both nationally and in Connecticut have raised eyebrows about the idea of college sports this fall. Some say the games will be safe as long as schools implement proper protocols. Others wonder whether sports, particularly on college campuses, are worth the risk.

“We’re in the middle of a pandemic, and there is no way we can make the risk zero,” said Dr. Matthew Cartter, Connecticut’s state epidemiologist. “We have to ask ourselves as a society, are sports important that we’re willing to accept the risk that people involved in

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L.A. and San Diego school districts to start the year online

The two largest school districts in California announced Monday that classes will be online-only at the start of the school year, citing “skyrocketing infection rates” of the coronavirus in their areas.

The Los Angeles and San Diego unified school districts, which issued a joint announcement, will begin online instruction in mid-August but will “continue planning for a return to in-person learning during the 2020-21 academic year, as soon as public health conditions allow.”

Los Angeles Unified, the country’s second-largest school district with roughly 700,000 students, will begin instruction Aug. 18; San Diego Unified, which serves more than 100,000 students, is set to start Aug. 31.

“There’s a public health imperative to keep schools from becoming a petri dish,” Austin Beutner, the school superintendent in Los Angeles, said in a video message posted online.

In the joint announcement, the school districts said the research around coronavirus-era school safety remains “incomplete,” and

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Here’s how to pick an online school next year

South Florida school options are diminishing almost daily. The pressure is mounting on parents to figure out how to make sure their kids get a quality education next year.

Palm Beach County schools will likely offer online-only instruction when the school year starts Aug. 10. Miami-Dade schools are also planning virtual-only learning to open the school year Aug. 24. Broward will make a decision on how to open schools in the coming weeks.

So what else is out there? There are private schools, some of which already have announced they will reopen for in-person classes, and charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately managed.

Then there are the public online schools that have been around for years, including Florida Virtual School and county-run virtual schools.

Decisions must be made soon. Some county virtual schools want applications by next week, while Florida Virtual’s deadline is July 31.

Here’s a primer

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Social media firms make $1bn a year from anti-vax followers, report says

Conspiracy theorists at Hyde Park Corner on 16 May 2020 in London: Getty
Conspiracy theorists at Hyde Park Corner on 16 May 2020 in London: Getty

Social media platforms are making up to $1bn a year from people following anti-vaccine misinformation that could cause “tens of thousands” of coronavirus deaths, researchers say.

The Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) said the number of people viewing pages and posts claiming that a Covid-19 vaccine is unnecessary or would pose a health risk had risen dramatically during the pandemic.

Despite pledges by Facebook and others to crack down on harmful posts, a report found that at least 57 million users now follow anti-vaxxers on mainstream platforms across the UK and US – up 7.7 million since the start of the outbreak.

A YouGov poll suggested that almost one in five British adults say they would refuse the injection if it becomes available, and a further 15 per cent are unsure.

The research suggested that people

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